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How I Plan a Landscape Photo Shoot

In this post, I'd like to talk about photo shoot preparation using the Photo Ephemeris. This is a tool that I've only started using in the last two years but have quickly come to rely on. Before that, it was much more difficult to predict the exact location of the sun and moon, especially when planning a shoot months in advance.


As you can see in the photos below from Robert Moses State Park, it is possible to pinpoint the location of the sun and moon with incredible precision. The darker orange line indicates where the sun is setting. This is a screen capture from the iPad app.  For $9, it's a very valuable tool.  There is already a version for the iPhone, with an Android app on the way.


As expected, the sun was setting between the Lighthouse and neighboring building, and I was able to use a very small aperture to create the long sunbeams.  


Fire Island Lighthouse, Long Island, NY


It was this tool that also allowed me to plan my Super moon shot over the Atlantic Ocean.  The light blue line shows where the moon will rise.  This is a screen capture from the free desktop version available for PC and Mac computers. 

Super Moon 2011, Robert Moses State Park, NY


The Ephemeris has some other great features for those who like to get very technical.  Here's a video to show a few more of its capabilities.  




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Reader Comments (8)

Great blog Chris!
I love TPE and use it all the time on my Android phone. My only complaint is that the phone versions of TPE don't have the terrain maps, which are great for judging when the sun's going to crest certain peaks, etc.Other than that it's great. The desktop app is definitely my photo trip planner. I first read about it in Outdoor Photographer. The writer used that along with another program called Heavenly Opportunity which tells which days the sun or moon will rise or set at a certain position you tell it. Very efficient.
January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C.
Cool, I'll check out the program you mentioned, thanks for the input.
January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Wow! thank you for sharing that-it should make planning a lot easier.
January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaalke Moffatt
Glad to help, appreciate the feedback.
January 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterNYIP Editor
Chris - thanks for covering TPE in your post, really appreciate it!

I just wanted to mention one thing in response to Alex's comment above: we did add topographic maps to the iOS version of TPE late last year. Google's Terrain maps are not available for use in developer apps on either iOS or Android (for reasons that have never been fully made public, so far as I'm aware). However, we have an excellent alternative in the form of Open Cycle Maps, which are available via the Topo option in TPE for iOS. We're hoping to add the same to Android in the future.
January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephen
Sounds great Stephen, thanks for the heads up on the Open Cycle Maps!
January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris
This is a wonderful program that's always a part of the plan for every shoot.
February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Bishop
thank you Chris
February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterF.Zaman
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