This is one of the most important videos of the 1st P of my 3P creation process – Planning. It is meant to increase your efficiency as well as consistency to capture best landscape photos.
You probably have witnessed beautiful sunrise, sunset over gorgeous landscape quite a number of times. You probably also have taken some nice shots by chance. To maximize your chance to capture nice landscape photos, however, you can not always rely on “luck” and have to ditch that “serendipity” mindset. Fortunately, there is a systematic approach to increase your chances, which I call – Planning!
As I mentioned in the video below, sometimes even a few minutes difference could make a huge impact on the color, lighting, mood and overall quality of your landscape photos, not to mention a few hours. See following examples – all were taken at roughly the same place on the same day but at different time.
It is quite obvious you can create very different photos if you know the secret to be in the right place at the “right” time.
I have given quite a few examples in my earlier posts and videos, such as How Colors Change Within 10 Minutes For Landscape Photography.
The following website and app are the most basic tools for planning your next landscape shoot. I have used them for years. I look them up before each trip, and then decide which days I should travel, and what time of the day I should head out for the photo shoot.
This is the most straightforward one to understand the sunrise, sunset as well as moonrise, moonset time of each day based on a given location. The location is pretty general such as a city or an area. I’ve mentioned it a few times in my past videos, such as How To Arrange Your Photo Activities In The Evening.
This is a more comprehensive tool that has both desktop and smartphone versions, so a high plus than the former site. However, you need to invest some time to fully understand and capitalize on this app. Once you master it, it can be a very powerful tool to plan both the time and location of your photo shoot. The location info is much more precise and specific than sunrisesunset website. However, if you will travel to remote places for an extended period of time, which is more likely for serious landscape photographers, you might encounter reception problems. For example, during my 72-day national park road trip, I wasn’t able to use the app every day due to lack of phone reception and wifi. But at least I can print a one-page monthly sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset info from the sunrise sunset website before the trip.
If you do have internet access, and travel to less remote places or somewhere you are more familiar with, photo ephemeris could be more useful. It not only tells you the time to photograph your subject but also the direction of the light based on a given time, thus the specific angle you might want to photograph your subject.
If you are traveling to a country or place you’ve never been, this can still give you a general idea of where you could possibly find your vantage point. Before my Iceland trip, for example, I have pinpointed all the waterfalls and major landscape locations I’d like to visit onto the app, and got a general idea whether I should photograph certain subject during sunrise versus sunset. Although I still need to do on site recon, this preparation already saves me a lot of time. You can check more details on 7 Ways to Maximize Your Chance To Photograph In the Right Place At the Right Time.
Of course there are plenty other similar tools. I think these two should suffice to help you plan on photographing general landscape subjects.
If you want to take photos of special landscape topics such as northern light, ocean beach, milky way, you definitely need more sophisticated tools, including but not limited to cloud map, tide charts, light pollution chart, weather forecast, aurora intensity forecast etc.. Using Iceland for example, here are Six Unique and Critical Steps To Plan Your Iceland Photo Trip.