Not very often does one run across an application that makes your life simple when it comes to taking photographs. In this case TPE is free, available for Mac, PC, was well as the the iPhone. While there are many applications for the computer and iPhone which annotate sunrise and sunset for a given location, this little beauty stands apart from the crowd as a true interactive planning tool. The Photographer’s Ephemeris can depict sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset PLUS it will show the actual sun angle at any give hour from any given location, all with the Google Earth / Google Maps in the background. TPE is fairly simple in concept: 1) display a Google Map 2) choose a date 3) calculate and display a bunch of astronomical data. The tricky part comes from the connection between 1 and 2. Most similar programs and web-sites have you select from a pre-defined list of locations, where, presumably, things such as the relevant time zone are already saved – not much help if you are in the middle of BFE and it is not on the pre-defined list. I love it as a planning tool and will use it in planning my outdoor shoots. As an example, the screen shots below indicate the sun angle by the thin yellow line, while the thicker yellow/orange lines indicate sunrise and sunset direction. Lots of detailed explanations are on the site so give it a look.
Head on over to The Photographer’s Ephemeris and run the tutorials, download the application. If you like it be sure to come back and toss the author some coins for his efforts.
Cheers and happy photo’ing