Friday, October 29, 2010

X Marks The Spot

Here's a link to a helpful article in the current issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine about using technology to get you to a desired photography location at the right time of day to have a better chance at getting the lighting results that you want.  This was a great article for me to read, because quite frankly I didn't know that these tools did all of the things that they do (and that they do it so well).

I immediately downloaded the latest versions of Google Earth and The Photographer’s Ephemeris, plugged in a few locations and times of day that I was interested in testing out, and I was instantly able to see in a visual way what the lighting and shadow angles would be at those times of day, on those days, in those locations.  I was particularly blown away by the Google Earth 'Sun' button that simulates the path of the sunlight (and its shadows!) throughout a given day at a given location.

So what does this mean for planning a shoot?  It means everything!

Sometimes photography is about casually walking around and grabbing whatever serendipitous pictures you can find, and that's fine when that's what your goal is.  But other times it's a very planned activity when you're on the hunt for a specific shot, in specific light, etc.

I can't tell you how many times I've driven or hiked to a given location with the intent of photographing something with the sun shining on it (or not shining on it), trying for a specific angle of lighting, etc, only to have my efforts ruined by getting there and seeing that I just missed getting the right light because of bad timing.

These tools allow you to plug in locations, dates, and times to see simulated lighting AND shadow paths!  I can then say, "OK...For this location, to get the sun shining on that hillside, I need to be there by 3:00 at the latest or the sun will be past the hill".  This is awesome insight to have when planning a photo excursion!

When planning a shoot from now on, no more will I have to say "I just missed my light and wasted my time!".  I can now plan to be there when the light is where I want it, and it's only the quality of the light that I'll have to worry about...but that's up to Mother Nature.

Try these two great tools!  You'll really like them!

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