Fol­low the sun

James Pater­son ex­plains how to chart the po­si­tion of the sun to give your land­scapes the edge

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Use an app to pre­dict ex­actly where and when the sun will rise or set on a land­scape, so you can find the per­fect an­gle to shoot ev­ery scene

Pho­tog­ra­phy is all about light: its di­rec­tion, an­gle, qual­ity and strength. Scenes can look very dif­fer­ent un­der var­ied light­ing con­di­tions and, as any land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher knows, the most at­trac­tive nat­u­ral light oc­curs at the start and end of the day. Not only does the low an­gle of the sun cre­ate pock­ets of light and shade that re­veal the con­tours of a land­scape, its rays have to pass through more of the earth’s at­mos­phere, caus­ing the light to take on the warm qual­i­ties that re­sult in vi­brant sun­rises and sun­sets.

If you can work out how the light will be­have in ad­vance, you’ll have a huge ad­van­tage when shoot­ing land­scapes. This is where tech­nol­ogy can help. With a smart­phone, all the in­for­ma­tion you need is at your fin­ger­tips. In the last few years sev­eral apps have been de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for this pur­pose, in­clud­ing the ex­cel­lent Pho­toPills. It’s pos­si­ble to chart the tra­jec­tory of the sun with such pre­ci­sion that you can even pre­dict ex­actly where it will ap­pear in your com­po­si­tion. Here we’ll use Pho­toPills along with other plan­ning tools to work out ex­actly where the sun will rise. With smart tools like this, we can pre­dict the an­gle of the sun and de­ter­mine the most vi­brant part of the sky long be­fore go­ing out to shoot it.

If you can work out how the light will be­have in ad­vance, you’ll have a huge ad­van­tage

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