Ok, I have taken good landscape photos… I think and hope.
This post is actually to talk about the prep-work behind landscape/night sky photography.
I am planning a road trip on the long Labor Day weekend. So far, the best place I’ve come up with is Woodend/Mount Macedon. Why have I been looking at that? Mainly because there is something interesting to photograph: mountains and night sky (I could have also settled for beach and night sky, forest and night sky, and lake and night sky). As you can see, I’m determined to use my 40th birthday present for what I wanted it for: to take night sky photos.
But I digress, back to the subject. As such, I have only hiked “somewhere in Macedon Ranges”, with little regard to where my husband and I were actually going, I was there for the adventure. This time, I am going with planned photos to take and more time. Macedon and Woodend are fairly close to Melbourne, wouldn’t be an issue for us to drive up and drive back the same day, as we did when we hiked. But driving to and from the area at the times I want to photograph might not always be ideal, so I rather be closer to the subject and travel less in the eerie hours of the night.
To plan my photos and make the most of the 3 days/2 nights we are thinking of staying there, I have to plan the photos. As obvious as it sounds, I want to do a night shot of the sky, but since I have never been there, I don’t know the “good spots”. That’s where a little research and the right tools can go a long way.
I recently have resumed reading “Landscape Photography on Location: Travel, Learn, Explore , Shoot” and the author has reference a mobile app called The Photographers Ephemeris (available for iOS and Android). I checked the app out in the app store and realized it had great potential… and had a bundle associated to it (get 3 apps for the price of 2). And so I bought the bundle: The Photographers Ephemeris, the 3D version of it and Photo Transit. Each app on their own is great, but if you use Photo Transit with TPE (and/or TPE 3D), you get a lot more out of it. I start out by looking at Google Maps (or Google Earth) the general area I would like to photograph for interesting landmarks. Then I open Photo Transit and create my photo project with the photos I want to take. When I “create the photo I want to take” I define the lens I’m planning to use and the focal distance and the software shows me the visibility cone. From that, I can “export” the information to the other two applications. TPE and TPE 3D help with lighting and terrain. The main difference between the two is representation of the information: with TPE 3D, as the name suggests, you get a 3D view of what you would take a photo of; with TPE you get the sun rise and sun set positions and times, moon rise and moon set positions and times and all the required information to make sure that you take the photo you are thinking of.
I have to say that I’m really enjoying the apps and they are helping me figure out the time, location and direction the photo should be. The only thing the applications don’t do is control the weather to make sure you have a beautifully clear night sky for the night shots and just enough clouds in the sky for sunrise and sunset photos.
All in all, I’m very excited with the prospect of planning it out.