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Essential Apps to take Outdoor Photography to the Next Level

Landscape and nature photographers rely on weather conditions to be at their best. Lighting, location, the right time and friendly weather are just some important aspects to prepare for capturing stunning photos. New technologies let you download applications onto your smartphone. These are very useful, from planning to execution stage. Some are free too! From my experience, here are some essential apps for Android and iOS smartphones, and your computer.
 
labuan bajo landscape photography with Canon EOS 6D 
EOS 6D; EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM; f/8; 1/125 sec; 60mm; ISO-200 (Labuan Bajo)
 
A. Planning
· The Photographer’s Ephemeris
· Photopills 
· Planit!
· Google Maps, Streetview and Earth
 
B. Weather
· AccuWeather
· WeatherPro
· Tides Near Me
 
C. Night Sky
· Stellarium
 
A. Planning
A successful shoot depends on good planning. Once you determine your subject, consider supporting elements to help you compose your photo. Check out the below planning apps:
 
The Photographer’s Ephemeris 
Ideal for landscape photography, this app tracks the position of the sun and moon, and determines sunset/sunrise timing. Once you input your shoot location, it shows the direction of the sun or moon. Its moon phase information helps determine the best time for night shot. No internet connection is needed, this is important because of weak cellular signals outdoors. The Android version is not as functional as the iOS version which has Night Mode to see the milky way position and the star constellations. This app is ideal for landscape photographers, travelers and outdoor/nature photographers who rely on finding the right location and timing.
 
You can get it from Google Play and iTunes App Store
 
PhotoPills 
Ideal for landscape photographers who chase stunning results from sunset until sunrise. Use your smartphone to determine sunrise's timing, its Augmented Reality feature finds the best composition to frame the moon, sun and Milky Way. It locates the sun, moon and Milky Way, while a calculator measures long exposures, time lapse, star trail, hyperfocal and depth of field, to help you achieve stunning results.
 
You can get it from Google Play and iTunes App Store
 
Planit!
Quite similar to Photopills, it lets you plan your photoshoot well before you arrive at the location. With its ability to find location by using GPS coordinates, height, distance and lens point of view, you can roughly visualise the photo result. You can also direct your smartphone to pinpoint sunrise or when the full moon will set.
 
You can get it from Google Play and iTunes App Store
 
Google Maps, Earth and Streetview
Once you decide on your locations, Google Maps provides exact coordinates to simplify navigation between destinations. 3D pictures from Google Earth let you visualise the location. Better still, Google Street View provides a panoramic view in 360, so you can get familiar with locations you have never visited before.
 
B. Weather
No matter how detailed your planning is, everything depends on the weather — especially for landscape photography. Here are some applications which provide reliable forecasts.
 
AccuWeather
Get the current weather status at your location, as well as advance forecasts ranging from a few hours to two weeks. It is not 100% accurate but it can help you to decide the best time to visit the location without being held up by bad weather.
 
You can get it from Google Play and iTunes App Store
 
Tides Near Me
If your location is by the sea, don’t waste time waiting for ideal tide conditions. Be prepared with information on high and low tides, as well as sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset.
 
You can ge it from Google Play and iTunes App Store
 
Get some tips and tricks on how to shoot and ensure your camera stay safe during cold weather
 
C. Night Sky
If you are interested in night scenery, finding the right location and weather — with less light pollution — is easier than you think.
 
Stellarium
If you want to shoot stars, this PC-based app catalogues 600 thousand of stars, nebulas, and galaxies. It determines the best time to capture the core of a Milky Way and the position it will appear and disappear. A mobile version with Accelerometer finds the Milky Way, star constellations and other sky objects, simply by pointing your smartphone in its direction.
 
You can ge it from Google Play and iTunes App Store
 
Start your journey in astrophotography from the articles below:
 
My Experience
 
Before I start any landscape photography, I research each location. This includes learning about any points of interest as well as special events that will take place during my visit. Using one of the apps mentioned above, I begin by entering the required data. For example, to photograph the sunset in Labuan Bajo, I check the app for the time and location of sunset. Then I point my smartphone in that direction, wait for the right time and press the shutter when the sun is in the right framing.
 
Once I visited Derawan to photograph a full moon. Using the correct app, I found the right position and time for moonrise. With my EOS 6D camera with EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens, I captured a perfect picture!
 
sembalun indonesia with canon eos 6D
EOS 6D: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM; f/11; 1/250 sec; 24mm; ISO-100 (Sembalun)
 
AccuWeather proved very useful in Flores, where I visited Wae Rebo, a UNESCO village. It rained every day before I started my journey to Wae Rebo. Every night and at dawn I checked the weather forecast until the app indicated the weather was clearing. A clear blue sky welcomed me when I finally reached Wae Rebo, and I even managed to capture Milky Way. 
 
wae rebo indonesia landscape photography with EOS
EOS 6D: EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM; f/4; 20 sec; 16mm; ISO-5000 (Wae Rebo)
 
Read Wahyu Widhi's adventure in Flores in : When Coffee Bajawa Accompany our Astrophotography Search
 
To capture Milky Way, I normally use Stellarium to determine the composition of the Milky Way in the camera framing. While I was in Merbabu, I noticed the Milky Way formed up like an arrow above Merapi Mountain. I had to capture this stunning image! Using an app, I got the correct location for my photograph. For three days and two nights, I trekked and camped at Merbabu Mountain area. Taking advantage of the night time, I planned and adjusted my settings for the best composition. I stayed up until morning to capture my dream photo!
 
merbabu astrophotography with Canon
EOS 6D: EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM; f/4; 20 sec; 16mm; ISO-6400 (Merbabu)
 
So, what is next for you? Now that you know how important these apps can be to improving your photography, start making use of them! Keep experimenting and keep pushing yourself to be a better photography. Happy shooting!
 
Apply what you have read today and plan your next photography outing to one of the 5 places to visit in Asia for travel photographers.

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Wahyu Widhi

Wahyu Widhi

Landscape photographer, loves to take the beauty of Indonesian scenery. Loves to travel and capture the magic of mother earth.

www.landscapeindonesia.com