The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris showing, among other things, the direction of the light incident on the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg on June 7, 2010 at 9:30 am.

I want to introduce one of the most amazing pieces of software that I’ve come across, photography or otherwise, called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” (TPE). I found a link to the software quite by accident while perusing a forum on Flickr. Now that I’ve incorporated TPE into my workflow for planning a photography shoot, I can not imagine life without it. This is program is absolutely essential for landscape, wildlife and scenic photographers.

“Ephemeris” refers simply to a table showing the positions of a heavenly body on a number of dates in a regular sequence. Not terribly exciting – until you incorporate the functionality of Google Maps in an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly graphical user interface (see screenshot above)! Say, for instance, you are planning a trip to Colonial Williamsburg over the 4th of July weekend. Simply navigate to CW in Google Maps, enter the day and the time (down to the minute) and you will get a plethora of information. In addition to the times of the sun/moonrise and sun/moonset, you also get the elevation of the sun above horizon, the length of shadows and a visual representation on the map of the direction of the light. Absolutely amazing.

It still boggles my mind that this software is FREE. Even if you only take a handful of photos outside, you absolutely need this software. Download it at Stephen Trainor’s webpage (did I mention it’s FREE?).

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