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Gear & Apps

Must-Have Apps for the Outdoor Photographer – Part 1: Planning

By Carsten Krieger on March 1st 2014

Back in the dark days without Internet, tablet and apps, planning a landscape photo shoot meant a lot of work. It was painstaking research to find out when and where the sun would rise and set at a particular location, which phase the moon is in, when the tide is in or out and so on. Knowing these things however are almost crucial to plan and execute a successful landscape image.

[REWIND: 10 Tips for Stunning Landscape Photography]

Thankfully, we are not in the dark ages anymore and with a tablet or smartphone at hand and the right apps installed, planning was never easier.

 1. The Photographer’s Ephemeris

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This is the ultimate landscape photographer’s app. It shows you sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, plus moon phase for any given location on the planet. In addition, you can also see on a map where exactly the sun (orange and yellow lines)/moon (blue lines) will rise and set and as a special treat, TPE also takes into consideration if you’re standing on a mountain top or in a valley.

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The app is available for Apple iPhone/iPad, Android, Windows and Mac (the latter 2 are even for free). Website: www.photoephemeris.com

2. The Photographer’s Transit

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This is the sister app for TPE and takes planning a landscape photo shoot a step further. TPT is a map based planning tool that uses a sophisticated field of view visualization. In practice, this means you tell the app what camera lens combination you would like to use for a certain location and TPT shows you what this combination would capture.

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Five different types of maps, including Google Standard, Hybrid and Terrain, Open Street Map and Open Cycle Map Topographic are currently available within the app. TPT is currently only available for Apple iPad. Website: www.phototransit.com

Both apps are rather easy to use with a self explanatory layout. The accompanying websites offer FAQ sections, tutorials and support to get the best out of TPE and TPT.

3. Tides Near Me

[REWIND: Photographing Storms: 7 Tips to Get the Shot (and Stay Safe)]

Nothing is more annoying than arriving at a remote beach, with what looks like it would be the most dramatic sunset ever…but the beach is covered in several feet of water: High tide!

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A tide table is a must have for coastal photography.  Not only will it save you fruitless trips, it also keeps you safe. I have tried various apps over the past years and Tides Near Me turned out to be the best so far. This app not only tells you the times of low and high tide of places all over the world (even tiny Kilbaha Bay where I live is listed), it also shows you the tidal range and gives you sunset/sunrise times as a bonus. Even more important, the times are very accurate (what I couldn’t say for all the apps I have used)… and it’s free for both Apple and Android! Website: http://tidesnear.me/

In the next part, we’ll have a look at apps that will get your creative juices flowing… it’s all about inspiration in the end.

 

Carsten Krieger is a freelance photographer based in Ireland. He is covering a wide range of subjects including architecture/interior, portrait and food (and with a proper supply of of tea and chocolate he is able to shoot about anything), but his true love is landscape photography. He has published and contributed to a number of books on Ireland’s landscape, nature and heritage and has written for various print and online magazines.

Q&A Discussions

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    Iphone…. LOL

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    Photopills FTW

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  6. Matthew Saville

    Hey Carsten, you should add Sun Surveyor to the TPE recommendation. It’s a very similar and almost equally popular app, and in my opinion is superior because it offers a couple other really awesome things that TPE does not. I believe it is now available for both Android and Apple!

    This app has widgets (for Android only) that can display moonrise / sunrise etc. times right on your home screen, which is very handy.

    Other apps that I find to be very critical for the planning stages are Google Sky Map, (or similar maps that allow you to plan astro-landscape related adventures) …as well as, of course, weather apps. (Actually there are a handful of more specific resources, not just “weather”, such as webcams that you can find for locations like Yosemite and similar popular destinations.

    =Matt=

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    • Daniel Price

      Hey Matt,

      I wrote an app that replaces the need to look at the weather forecasts, and instead simply gives you an hourly score on how great (or not) the conditions are for landscapes (and other types of photography). I hope you find it helpful:
      https://www.getoutcast.com

      Thanks,

      Daniel

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  7. Eli Burakian

    Thanks, these are great.

    Also check out Photopills. I’ve been using that for months, and in addition to what The Photographer’s Ephemeris has, it also has augmented reality. This means that you can hold your phone up and it will show you the exact path of the sun and the moon in the sky!

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