If you’re a landscape photographer, this is a fantastic app for you to know exactly how the light is going to fall at any given time or place. When you open the app for the first time, you can soon see just how sophisticated this app is. One way to start is by pinpointing a location you want to investigate by using the search function. Just for fun, I’ve centred the locator pin here on Tower Bridge in London, for 1 August, 2018.
You can see from the screen shot above a few different pieces of information, including the time of sunrise at 0524. The yellow line indicates the angle of the sunrise, so you can plan for where on the horizon, the sun is going to appear. The Orange line does the same for sunset, so you can get yourself into the right position to capture the sun sinking into the night at 2049 hrs. The light blue and dark blue lines also show you the directions of moon rise and moonset, and the times are in the band of information below the map.
Below that band of information, you can see the lines with the sun and moon rising and falling below the horizon. You can scroll left and right to see the times of moon and sun rise and set over the next few days too. As you do, as lines sweep around the map to show how the sun and moon will track across the sky at the point which you have selected in the map.
At two times in the day, the radius circle will be highlighted in yellow, and that indicates the times at which you will experience the Golden Hour. These are really great times to capture your photographs, as the light will have that lovely sunset and sunrise golden glow that works so well in photos.
There’s lots of other things you can do too, like enter in your elevation and also view Google Streetview to check out your planned location too. The best thing about the app is that it presents very precise and accurate location information in a way that is easy-to-understand. It could make the difference between arriving in a location at the perfect time to get the shot you want, or missing it all together. For that alone, it’s worth the price. Another bonus is that you aren’t restricted to the app. Though you have to pay for that, it also has a browser based version - designed for use on desktops or laptops too - and that’s free.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris 3D
Like the original app, this 3D version will allow you to see how the sunand moon are located in the sky. But this app add 3D topographical information like hills and valleys to show you exactly how the light will fall on the land that you are planning to take photographs in. So, let’s imagine I’m in the Lake District in England, and I want to see how the sun will fall on the land in a particular location at the beginning and the end of the day.
You get a good idea as to how this 3D version of the app can show you how a non-flat scene will look at a particular time of the day. You can control how complex the scene is to choose between fast loads and more detail - but be warned; the app takes up a lot of system resources and is battery heavy. It actually crashed a couple of times on my iPhone 7+ while testing the app, so bear that in mind.
Photo Transit “provides map-based field of view shot planning tools to help you visualise sight lines, compositions and lens/camera selection”. So, it’s more for your DSLR photographer who is looking to make choices between lenses and bodies that they may wish to take along to a particular location, and to get a preview of what they might see there using that equipment.
The app lets you specify the place where you will be and the point of interest you wish to take a photo of. You can then see the flied of view that your lens will give you from that point. Bu then, the best part is that you can switch to a Street view from your camera point and that field of view to give you an idea of what you will see with that equipment from that particular location, looking in the direction of the feature you’re taking a photograph of.
This is a very power trio of apps that you can buy as a bundle (£19.99 on the iOS app store), or separately. Having used them all for this review, I think they’re all useful in their own ways. The 3D app looks great in particular, but it did crash on me twice, so I’m not all that confident about its reliability. But, if you want to plan your shots in detail and not waste your time if you’re spending a day planning shoots in a particular location, this seems like a very valuable set of tools to have on your smartphone.
What do you think about The Photographer's Ephemeris suite of tools? Do you think it might be useful for you in your photography? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.