In Landscape photography, before going to a location and capturing the beautiful scenery, normally I will start with some “homework” first. And this homework usually involve searching for the spot using Google Map, check the weather forecast, finding some photos reference so that I can have a better idea on the location and etc. One of the tools I use in the planning process is The Photographer Ephemeris App, it provides you a map-based view with detail information on the changes of sun and moon. I will be using TPE word to represent The Photographer Ephemeris through the rest of article.
Here are the Whys
I can pre-plan and have a brief idea on the sunrise/sunset based on any location on earth, this work great especially when I plan to go to a new location or travel to another country, which sunrise/sunset timing can be different.
Unlike what has been taught in school, Sunrise doesn’t always rise on one exact EAST direction. Through the year, it can move between North East to South East, and same applies to the Sunset too. And TPE allows me to locate the actual position where the sunrise/sunset is, which allow me to decide the composition that I desire.
Not only TPE is able to provide me the current information, it also allows me to simulate the movement of the sunrise/sunset at any date that I want.
Using the App
Here is how I using the TPE app in planning my photo shoots, I will be using TPE iOS Version on iPhone 6 as the example. Let’s take a look on TPE user interface. 🙂
Currently selected date, it can be today date or any date that you prefer.
From top to bottom: Current Location, Dropping Pin, Geodetics, Layers (Where you can enable/disable the light pollution view), Type of Maps.
Current location, the Pinned location, Yellow line is the sunrise direction, Orange line is the sunset direction (for this case it is cover by the Dark Blue line), Light Blue line is the moonrise direction and Dark Blue line is the moonset direction.
Showing the Sunrise/Sunset, Moonrise/Moonset and Twilight information.
Here you can hold and drag the box to observe the movement of sun/moon change according to the times you selected.
Normally I will start a search by keying the exact location name (if you already know one) or just look for the area itself and from there fine tune the search result by moving the map.
Now I have the pin dropped on “Jelatek” location. (To give you an idea of how the place looks like, you can check out the post I wrote previously Here) And I going to explain how the sun direction can affecting the composition.
I have map the following screen shot with the word “KLCC” which is the actual location of the Kuala Lumpur Twin Tower, notice that if I was at this spot on 14 July 2015, the sunset direction will be just too far from the “KLCC”, let’s just say I am planning to make a close up shoot with all the commercial building at “KLCC” area together with the light trails, I might not able to have a colorful sky in my frame.
How about I re-visit the place again on 13 December 2015? Wow….the sun will be just right behind the KLCC now. And that’s will be what I want. 🙂
Not only just provide sun/moon information on a specific location, TPE App also providing Light pollution Map view. To use this, first, you will need to toggle it ON, and zoom out in a larger view. This can be very helpful on locating a super dark environment for Milky Way photography.
On the other hand, TPE App also provides different type of map view, from below left to right, it have Google Standard, Google Hybrid, Google Terrain, MapQuest OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap Topographic.
(Click on the image for larger view)
If you are interested on the App, you can check out from below links:
Or if you want to know more about the App itself, you can go to its website at here. And there’s also a desktop version too. 🙂
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