The Photographers Ephemeris

Orig­i­nal­ly Post­ed: Jan­u­ary 9, 2020
Updat­ed: Octo­ber 20, 2021

I shoot a lot of land­scapes, and tra­di­tion­al skills tell you that you need to be in a place when the “light is its best”.  Often this means sun­ris­es, sun­sets, dusk, dawn, or in my case with the Rocky Moun­tains so close, high con­trast shad­ows cast by the big rocks themselves.

Giv­en my many years pur­su­ing Astron­o­my, I am no stranger to ephemeris usage and data. [1. ephemeris — In astron­o­my and celes­tial nav­i­ga­tion, an ephemeris gives the posi­tions of astro­nom­i­cal objects in the sky at a giv­en time or times, see Wikipedia for fur­ther information.]

With mod­ern infor­ma­tion, mash-ups avail­able at our reach with our phones, tablets and lap­tops, this par­tic­u­lar tool has become absolute in my cam­era bag arse­nal (as much as a lens or cam­era body itself).

While it used to be an iOS appli­ca­tion only, it recent­ly (rel­a­tive­ly) came out as an Adobe AIR appli­ca­tion and there­fore runs on Win­dows and OSX although I still use the iPad ver­sion the most frequently.

This tool allows me to locate myself any­where on the plan­et and then posi­tion myself tem­po­ral­ly on that spot at any time of day or night.  In com­bi­na­tion with ephemeris infor­ma­tion, it allows you amongst oth­er things to see dawn, sun­rise, day, dusk, and sun­set in rela­tion to the angles of the sun and moon asso­ci­at­ed with those moments in time.  With a lit­tle 4D spa­tial rela­tions, one can put their “mind’s eye” in the loca­tion of choice and start plan­ning accordingly.

This tool has been uti­lized a num­ber of times for some of the works I am most proud of (Cana­di­an Pond Hock­ey for exam­ple).  While it does not take out all the work of hav­ing to find the loca­tion, scout it, be at the mer­cy of the weath­er with a pinch of lunch and hard work, it does reduce the guess­work in deter­min­ing when and where the Sun will be shinning.

It should also be not­ed that this can have a great impact on those of us liv­ing far­ther from the equa­tor where a sun­set in the winder may occur at 16:00 where­as in the sum­mer months at 21:30.  I’m not too wor­ried about wait­ing around in the sum­mer months, but take it from a Cana­di­an, hang­ing out for sev­er­al hours in ‑30 C weath­er wait­ing for the per­fect set­ting can be a bit frigid.

The Pho­tog­ra­pher’s Ephemeris for iOS and Adobe AiR.

| Arti­cle post­ed in: Quan­tum of Light || Tagged as: |