An Introduction To The Photographer's Ephemeris

Until recently, the only way to ascertain sunset/sunrise times and information about the phases of the moon was to pore over tables of numbers, but The Photographer's Ephemeris has changed all that. That's no fun! It's much better to actually be able to see how the light will fall on our chosen location, right? TPE makes that possible.

Incidentally, an ephemeris is a table of numbers that indicates the positions of astronomical objects in the sky. The Photographer's Ephemeris gives this raw data and displays it visually, so that you can see the relative angle of the sun and moon as it will appear on any date at any location on the planet. The application was originally designed to help landscape photographers, but it can be useful for those taking any kind of shots outdoors.

For example: let's say you wish to find a lakeside location with a full moon, or want to catch a sunset over a mountain range. Photographers Ephemeris makes it easy to do that.

Tips for Using The Photographer's Ephemeris

It's a fairly simple application to use, but it can take a while to really get the hang of using the results to your best photographic advantage.

The first thing you'll need to do is search for the location you want to photograph. Thanks to Google Maps, you should be able to find just about any location on the planet. The application will display a map with a marker pointing to your desired location. You can drag the marker and zoom in so that you get information based on the exact location you are looking.

Here are a few tips for taking full advantage of this application to save time and improve your photography all at the same time.

Use TPE as Your Personal Scout

With The Photographer's Ephemeris, you can plan your shoots right form your desk. If you're looking for a map of a city, use the Map mode. To see details of particular buildings, you'll want to use the Satellite/Hybrid mode. And finally, if it's the landscape you want to see, use the Terrain mode.

Look for the Asterisk

TPE will display an asterisk beside dates that will likely have a new or full moon sitting low on the horizon. These dates are usually the best choices when you want to take landscape photos that include the moon.

Do Your Homework

In "Details" mode, you can use the time-of-day marker to check how the sun will hit your particular desired shoot location at a particular time of day. This can be very useful for when time is of the the essence, such as for capturing outdoor wedding vows or the very start of a bike race. This can help you set up your camera in the optimal position for capturing that once-in-a-lifetime moment with the best lighting conditions.

Reach for the Stars

If you're looking to take photos of the stars, look for a time before or after twilight for a really dark night.

The Photographer's Ephemeris is a great tool for photographers who are looking to take great landscape shots, or indeed any outdoor shots. It can be tricky to learn, but once you get the hang of it, you just might find it has been worth the while.