Location Scouting with The Photographer’s Ephemeris
With the transition to the digital medium, many photographers are now relying on more contemporary means to help them plan and organize their photography shoots. One of the most beneficial and reliable programs I’ve come across is The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which takes out all the guesswork of natural light by showing you where and when the sun will appear in the sky. This allows you to choose prime locations for your photography and predict how the light will interact with your environment.
Designed by a photographer, TPE is a fantastic resource for those who plan their shoots around the natural light, which is a large part of many areas in photography – from landscape to advertisement, rural to urban.
Available as both a computer program and an app, you can either plan from home or take it with you for completely mobile location scouting. Since TPE uses Google Maps, you have all those helpful features at your fingertips – for example, being able to see the terrain with a topography overview.
Another huge benefit TPE offers is that it will also tell you where and when the moon will rise and set, in the very same fashion as the sun. Want to capture the moon rising over a mountain ridge? The Photographer’s Ephemeris can help you pinpoint a fantastic perspective.
Since I’m a landscape photographer, I use TPE often to plan my sunrise and sunset images -which often results in unexpected discoveries. For example, the image above was taken at a location that I stumbled onto while browsing TPE. I was initially looking to see where the sun would set at Reid State Park, and while viewing the overhead map I noticed a small point located behind the sand dunes. Although it is only a mile from the parking area, I always thought that there was nothing on the other side of the dunes. TPE gave me the unique birds-eye vantage point from Google Maps, and showed me that it would make for a superb spot to capture the setting sun.
TPE also has the ability to predict future sunrises and sunsets, which is a very useful advantage if you want to shoot a location under a certain kind of light. Since the sun’s position in the sky changes as the seasons progress, you can decide the best time of year to photograph an area under the exact light you want. You also have the ability to save a location, making it simple to scout several spots well in advance of your trip.
And if you’re already a user, you may have missed the very handy tutorials on how to use all of the basic and advanced features of TPE, which you can find here:
- Using TPE Part 1: The Basics
- Using TPE Part 2: Twilight and Details View
- Using TPE Part 3: Geodesy
- Using TPE Part 4: The Horizon