Sunrise & Set Pro for iPhone/iPod Touch

Like many in this industry, I started as an assistant to other photographers. One cold and wet afternoon while cleaning the cases of one of my clients I came across a curious set of plastic laminated cards with the word “Sundicator” printed on them. Being the complete geek that I was (am,) I recognized the terms Azimuth and Inclination and figured that these cards were a way of estimating where in the sky the sun would be at a particular time and place. Each card was specific to a range of latitudes on the globe. In order to use the set properly you needed the correct card for your latitude and a compass. It’s worth noting that this photographer had lost the card for our home latitude.

Jump ahead 15 or so years and you have the age of gps and hand held computing. Hence the iPhone app Sunrise and Set Pro. This wonderful little app will read your current gps location and tell you the Azimuth (heading) in inclination (angle above horizon) of the sun for any given time. It will also give you sunrise and sunset times for that location on any given day. The app automatically computes daylight savings time issues which is great because I can never remember whether to add or subtract and hour. And it will also allow you to save custom locations for later review. This is a great option for location scouting. With saved locations you can easily change dates and times of shoots from home and know what the sun will be doing before arriving on location. (more…)

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The Cost of Sleep

Sunrise, Goblin Valley. When sunrises are a must, sleep comes at a premium price.
Sunrise, Goblin Valley. When sunrise is a must, sleep comes at a premium price.

Normal people (by which I mean non-photographers) often suffer from a strange delusion-the idea that it makes sense to spend thousands of dollars (and both weeks of annual vacation) travelling across the world to see a beautiful place, but no sense at all to either get up for sunrise or stay outside for sunset, and thus having to eat dinner earlier or later than their usual hour. A little thinking ahead might give many of these folks a better vacation experience.

Of course, we photographers need to think ahead too.

For many of us, sunset and sunrise are our prime working hours, it’s important to be out and about for both. In many locations, this can be a challenge. My first trip to Glacier National Park in Montana was in mid-summer some years back. I realized then that if I needed to be up at 4:15 to make a 5 a.m. sunrise, and that I wouldn’t be back from a 9 p.m. sunset until almost 10, that it was absolutely impossible to get more than about six hours sleep between the two and still make both calls, in practice, I was getting closer to four and a half. (more…)

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Reflections on Weak Sunsets

Sunrise Reflections, Old Marina, Mono Lake
Sunrise Reflections. Old Marina, Mono Lake

The power and beauty of an exceptional sunrise or sunset is incredible. As nature photographers, it is understandable that we gravitate towards the most direct expressions of these incredible moments. Those sunrises and sunsets often offer not only incredible color in the skies, but also on the landscape itself–color that shows texture and contrast by raking across our subjects. Trying to pull in the whole picture, capturing all of this, is a wonderful goal.

Sadly, all too often, the skies don’t light up the way we expect. Or other factors get in the way of these hopes. In remaining attached to our vision of the grand scene, it is all too easy to give up and to forget what powerful alternatives can remain. Often, I find those alternatives include reflections. (more…)

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