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Gear & Apps

Plan Your Outdoor Photo Sessions Perfectly With The Photographer’s Ephemeris App

By Hanssie on February 17th 2015

Are you detail oriented and a little OCD about planning photo shoots? Want to know how the shadow length or the moon location at 5:24pm on April 25th, 2015? This might be the app for you.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is not a brand new app. First launched in 2009 on the desktop, this app allows you to plan outdoor photo shoots with ease and accuracy from your phone – and has just released a major iOS update – version 3.0.  Need to know the exact times the sun and moon rises and sets? No problem, there are lots of apps that can do that. But what sets TPE apart from the rest is its ability to calculate where the light will actually fall on the land anywhere on this blue ball. But that’s not all it does.


This little app is packed with lots of features that most of us probably won’t need – but perhaps some hardcore landscape and urban photographers (Need the times for civil or nautical starts? Yeah, me neither). But what about the exact time for Golden Hour – calculated precisely when the sun is between the horizon and +6°; perhaps you need the shadow length from a location at a specific time; maybe you need the exact time when the moon will appear over the cityscapes…this little app does all that. You can put away your topographic maps, calculators, protractors and measurement tools now.

TPE just released a major update for iOS – version 3.0 – and the app is available on Android as well. This video shows some of the new features of this map based sun and moon calculator:


TPE now has a consistent design across all devices – desktop, phone and iPad – and they’ve modernized the look and feel to aid in user experience. Moving some of the commonly used features to make them more accessible and making location search and saved locations quicker and easier to find are just a few ways they have improved in this new version.

There are numerous map types for you to chose from – satellite or topographic, terrain or standard, there are also two offline maps you can access in case you find yourself in the middle of nowhere without a wifi signal.



Some of the new features for the app include line of sight analysis, a Visual Search capability, and a number of ways you can share your data.

If you need to figure out the visibility between two points on a map, using the line of sight analysis will help you determine where to shoot and where to position your model. You can also figure out angle of views on major landmarks and what it would look like shooting from that vantage point.

Visual Search will allow you to plan ahead and see when the sun might rise in a specific location and how much illumination the moon will give off. There are now many ways you can share your plans so you can invite all your friends to come shoot in the perfect conditions.

The app can be purchased in the iTunes store for $9.00 here and for Android and Desktop here.

[Via Petapixel]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Great app!

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  2. Jason Teale

    I love using this before I head out. I haven’t downloaded yet but it is something that I am really considering. It has a ton of great information.

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  3. David Hall

    I have this but really don’t use it to it’s potential.

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  4. James Rogen

    this is way more practical than carrying around my sundial and sextant, but how will the hipsters know i’m one of them?

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  5. Nick Riley

    Is this app really worth purchasing? I know it’s only $9, but does the app have features not present on the desktop version? I currently use this (desktop) tool in my workflow when suggesting a meeting time to my clients based on the location they’ve selected. I haven’t seen the need to use it on-the-go or in the field, well, because I can look up and see exactly where my light is coming from at that point.

    Those of you who have purchased the app, how have you integrated it in to your workflow? What features am I not aware of/missing out on?

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    • Matthew Saville


      I spent days on end in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from my laptop and many many miles away from cell phone range, so yes, a program like TPE or Sun Surveyor is EXTREMELY valuable when planning things out… :-D

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  6. Matthew Saville

    I prefer Sun Surveyor, I REALLY like the AR camera view that it has, that is super useful! I think TPE may have this too by now, but they didn’t when I originally bought Sun Surveyor. I have it for both my iPad and my Samsung Galaxy, and it’s really helping out…

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    • Ed Rhodes

      Thanks for the tip! I’m going to look into it before i decide which one to get.

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  7. Nick DiGiallonardo

    I’ve been using the Photographers Ephemeris app on Android devices for a couple years now and absolutely love it. I find it to be an essential part of my tool kit for accurately planning shoots outdoors and knowing where the light is going to be.

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  8. Alexander Panzeri

    After many years where I used multi free app, at the end I decided to switch to: Sun Surveyor ( ) that it’s cheaper ane more useful on field.

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  9. Kishore Sawh

    I think i need to get this. LIke now

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    • Greg Silver

      I’m thinking so too Kishore and thanks Brandon for the endorsement. I also like the fact there’s a desktop app as well. Quite versatile!

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  10. Brandon Dewey

    I use this app before every shoot I do. It is amazing and easy to use

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  11. Greg Silver

    Great article. I’ve been on the fence for awhile right now between The Photographer’s Ephemeris and PhotoPills. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet but both cost about the same. Anyone else use either of these apps (for iOS)?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Greg, I’m sort of in the same boat, but it’s this one that I’ve never heard anything but praise about. And this update makes it look almost like aviation navigation systems, which is great.

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