Knowing where to be and when to be there is often the key to a special image. Most of the time the “when” is hard to know in advance. But one opportunity that occurs like clockwork every year is the phenomenon known as “The Christmas Angel” at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
At the back of the Cathedral (opposite end from the entrance, known as the apse), high on a wall, there is a row of statues of angels spaced at regular intervals. The statues are not particularly remarkable because they are in the shadows and one would not normally notice them. But there is one statue that becomes a major attraction for a few minutes each day in the months of November and December. A stained glass window high on the opposite wall is perfectly located to allow a shaft of light strike the back wall of the nave at midmorning.
Photographed at 10:41 AM
The image above shows the light striking the wall to the (photographer’s) left of the statue, which is hardly visible.
Photographed at 11:21 AM
Thirty minutes later, the light has moved to the right and begins to illuminate the statue. By 11:20 AM the statue is fully illuminated and will remain that way for about five minutes.
Close-up photographed at 11:22 AM
After a few minutes the light begins to disappear as the sun moves out of position. See the image below.
Photographed at 11:43 AM
By 11:40 AM, the light was essentially gone.