A variation of the modified Langley plot algorithm is reported here and applied to the retrieval of atmospheric water column abundance from a filtered sunphotometer. In this new methodology an absorption data base (LOWTRAN 7) is used to compute a water abundance versus transmittance curve of growth, rather than the square-root dependence previously assumed. Validation of the technique is provided from an uncertainty analysis, and plans to further validate using Fourier transform spectrometers are detailed. The new sunphotometer technique is used to report total column water vapor during the First ISLSCP Field Experiment (FIFE), and comparisons are made with abundances retrieved via FIFE radiosonde observations. The sunphotometer data can best be utilized, however, to in turn validate data from airborne or in-orbit measurements of water vapor. With these flight sensors, horizontal and topographic variability within the scene can be viewed. An example of the airborne data set is given using an image from the airborne visible infrared imaging spectrometer (AVIRIS), as acquired on August 31, 1990.