The photographers ephemeris

Landscape photographers often plan their shots after the golden hours or twilight. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a piece of software that helps you plan, not only twilight, but also the sun or moons direction at any given time as well as shadows and the length of the shadow and much more. About two months ago I visited a waterfall, the largest in the area called Månafossen, but arrived too late. The sun was partially blocked by a mountain ridge and only lighting half the waterfall. The upper half was bathing in sun, while the lower part was in shadow, making the shooting less than ideal. Based on my new knowledge of the area, I decided to return either an overcast day or a sunny day between 8 and 12 hoping the valley and entire waterfall would be well lit by the sun. I just recently stumbled upon this software and I decided to give Stephen Trainor’s The Photographer’s Ephemeris a go, starting with my planned waterfall shots.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is free and runs on mac, windows, linux and was written using Adobe AIR. To run The Photographer’s Ephemeris, you will need to install Adobe AIR (free) first. The software will also require an Internet connection to run the maps and calculations.

The screen shot above shows the terrain and location marked with the red pin. The bold lines mark sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moon set. The thin line shows the suns direction at a given time and the thin grey line can be moved around to show the degree (elevation) nearby mountains will be at from your position of the map. Put simple; what it does, is that it will tell you if a nearby mountain will be blocking the sun or not.  So, by moving the slider(s) you can quickly calculate the suns direction, vantage point and elevation of the nearby mountains, showing the ideal time for the waterfall shot. Whether or not this will work, will be put to the test next time im in the area. You can navigate by either using a traditional flat map, satellite images or terrain. I found that they all came in handy trying to figure out where the waterfall was, but a small drawback (atleast for me) is that these maps all lack a bit of detail in my area. This can however be compensated by using other maps to locate the exact position. Other features adding to the greatness of this software is the ability to save your locations, view by date (very nifty) as well as adding notes to saved locations.

You can download The Photographer’s Ephemeris and Adobe AIR here or if you’re not convinced, watch the tutorials below:

One Response to “The photographers ephemeris”

  • admin:

    On the 3rd of october Månafossen was shot in pouring rain, so I had no chance to test TPE this time.

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