Somebody recently pointed me to a new tool for landscape and urban photography…. so of course I was pretty interested and checked it out. In the first week that I have been using the software it has already helped me immensely and I urge you all to check it out.
It is called The Photographers Ephemeris… Now I don’t know about you but I didn’t know what the hell an Ephemeris was (but I do now)…. It’s basically tables of astronomical movements (sun, moon etc.) Now while I was relying on various other sites to give me information about sun and moon positions, what I like about this tool is the integration to Google Maps. You can simply put in an address or location, and you see a placemark appear on the Google Maps screen showing sunrise, sunset, sun & moon position at any point int the day overlayed over the Google Maps!!! It’s Awesome.
Let me relay a real case study of how this has helped me on a shoot that I am planning later today. Last Saturday I went to the abandoned Dunlop Factory in Alexandria for a scouting trip in preparation for a shoot that I am planning today. I took this photograph of my son as a scouting shot. I rang the model and set a time of 3PM on Sunday for the shoot figuring that as the sun sets the ambient light will be lower and I’ll have more control with my strobes. Now yesterday I was playing with The Photographers Ephemeris and I typed in the address to the search box at the bottom and my location came up. I then adjusted the calendar to todays date and moved the time slider to 3PM. It immediately showed me that the angle and elevation of the sun was wrong for my shoot. The old warehouse has big open sides on the second story, and I didn’t realise that they were facing due West. This would mean that the setting sun would shine right into the factory and give me too much ambient light. So I called the model and re-scheduled the shoot for 90 minutes earlier when the elevation of the sun would be higher (about 40 degrees).
This is a great tool, it’s available free for Mac & Windows platforms, and you can buy it for your iPhone as well. I have bought it as well as downloading it on my Mac at home and I have also made a donation to the developer of this great bit of software.
Head on over to the developer’s website where you can download the application and also watch a couple of quick tutorials on how to use it.