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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gadget Bag: Apps For Nature Photography

A bevy of apps you should always have with you

Labels: Gadget BagGear

The Photographer's Ephemeris; Sun Seeker

Once you get past the ability to make a phone call or check email, the usefulness of smartphones and tablets is all in the apps. For nature photographers, there are a lot of apps that can be incredibly useful both in the field as well as in planning for where to go to get your best shots at any given time of year or even time of day. You can find exposure calculators and time-lapse calculators, weather and tide apps and night-sky simulators…the list is endless. In this article, we're going to touch on a few of the most useful apps we know of.

DOF Master
Please note, we're not including much in the way of shooting or image-processing apps in this article. We'll be covering those much more extensively in a future Gadget Bag.

The Photographer's Ephemeris
One of the most useful apps for any nature photographer, The Photographer's Ephemeris is available for iOS or Android, and there's a free download available for your desktop or laptop computer. Beyond basic almanac functions like sunrise and sunset as well as moon position for any location at any time, the app will display how the light falls on the area—what will be in shadow and when. There are advanced features including automatic time-zone and elevation detection, correction for atmospheric refraction and height above the horizon, to ensure that you have all of the information you need for planning and executing your photo shoot. The app is map-based so you can use it to precisely position yourself or where you plan to be without having to just pick from a limited list of predefined places.

Sun Seeker
Another popular photo planner is Sun Seeker. It provides "an augmented-reality 3-D view showing the solar path, its hour intervals, its winter and summer solstice paths, rise and set times and a map view that shows solar direction for each daylight hour." Sun Seeker uses your device's GPS and magnetometer to determine your location. It's a solid app that's also much more than a simple almanac, and it's available for iOS and Android.

Tide Graph
Tide Graph
Tide Graph lets you choose a location, and it will display the tides for that location on any day in the form of a graph. It's a simple but incredibly useful app for anyone shooting on the coast. It's available for iOS.

DOF Master
This is a simple and incredibly useful calculator for figuring out depth of field in your photos. You can plug in the specifics of your camera and lens setup, and DOF Master will generate the total depth of field, near-focus limit, far-focus limit and hyperfocal distance. The calculator works with just about any camera format, and you can select ƒ-stops in full, half or 1⁄3 increments. It's available for iOS and Android.


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