new photo blog

i started this blog in 2006, and it's shifted along with my interests through the years. it's been witness to a lot of learning for me...

still, i feel that i need a home for my photography -- so from now on, i'll be posting my pictures on the journal on my reworked website. if you like my photos, you might decide to follow me there!

my first post is here -- check it out!

as for this blog, i'm not sure what will happen. i don't think i'm willing to let it go, and certainly i'll keep it as an archive, but i need some time to figure it out.

for those of you that pop in from time to time, thanks for the visits and encouragement.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

unweaving the ice crystal halo

unweaving the ice crystal halo:  137/365
click to see all four shots
'after sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. within decades we must close our eyes again. isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? this is how i answer when i am asked—as i am surprisingly often—why i bother to get up in the mornings.' - richard dawkins, unweaving the rainbow: science, delusion and the appetite for wonder

(about the book, dawkins says: my title is from keats, who believed that newton had destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colors. keats could hardly have been more wrong, and my aim is to guide all who are tempted by a similar view, towards the opposite conclusion. science is, or ought to be, the inspiration for great poetry.)

click to see all four shots
it pays for people to know your personal obsessions. i woke up late yesterday morning and started puttering around the house, internet and flickr, minding my own (and the world's) business, when i got an urgent call to rush outside with the camera to capture an ice crystal halo, specifically a circumscibed halo!

i spent about an hour outside from about noon to just past 1:00, trying to find spots to see the halo entirely and a decent post to hide the sun itself... but in vain. i resorted to using my lens cap.

EDIT: i just got word from les that he's going to feature these this week on atmospheric optics' picture of the day!

i've sent these over to les cowley at atmospheric optics, a website which analyzises rainbows, halos, glories, coronas, rays and shadows -- anything to do with light in the atmosphere -- to get an idea of the structure of the halo. i also had a chat with my friend, jonathan shock, who believes this halo includes a infralateral arc and a parhelic circle.

i had captured another halo in beijing in january 2008. its set on flickr is here and its 'anatomy' is here.

jonathan has some wonderful captures himself: two over santiago and one thrilling specimen over the eiffel tower!


  1. Excellent shots, Helen! It's been years since I've seen an ice crystal halo, I'll have to remember your lens cap trick...

  2. Excellent shots, Helen! It's been years since I've seen an ice crystal halo, I'll have to remember your lens cap trick...