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  1. #1
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Predicting the light: "The Photographer's Ephemeris" by Stephen Trainor

    I just wanted to recommend a piece of handy new free software by landscapist, Stephen Trainor called "The Photographer's Ephemeris," which brings together a number of useful tools for predicting lighting for landscape and architectural photography in one package--

    http://stephentrainor.com/tools

    I haven't figured out all the advanced features for myself, but beyond the obvious things like figuring out when the golden hour is and the direction of the light at a given time of day, it will let you figure out things like when the sun will drop below a ridge line before sunset or for how long a rock face will be illuminated on a given day. To figure it out, I've got the location set at my apartment and the current time and date set, and I'm looking out the window and seeing what the software tells me about what should be where.

    Of course on a cloudy day all bets are off, and planning landscape trips often depends more on when one can get away than where the light will be, and the best photos are often the ones you didn't plan, but it does seem useful for figuring out where the lighting conditions will be good in a general way, or for careful planning when you want to return to a place you've already photographed when the light is in a certain spot.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  2. #2

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    This is the software equivalent of the turn of the century days when photographic plate manufacturers use to send out a card showing the required exposure settings based on season and time of day. I guess the software could also tell us when to set our alarm clock when we are on a photo trip to a latitude we are unaccustom to.

    Denis K

  3. #3

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    Thanks, David. Looks cool and should be useful. Its now in my Mac toolbar. Too bad it doesn't include local tides, but that's asking too much of a free software program.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    If he could connect it to AccuWeather and Zagat's guide, it could automatically make recommendations for local pubs on cloudy days.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  5. #5
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Adobe's instructions for installing AIR in linux are lacking. Not all distributions will install with correct privileges from the .bin file that's downloaded from the Adobe web site.

    To install in a more standard way, open a terminal and go to the directory where AdobeAIRInstaller.bin is located. Then at the command line type:

    chmod -x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

    then:

    sudo ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

    This will install Adobe AIR.

    The install for the Photographer's Ephemeris didn't work if I checked or unchecked either of the options for adding a desktop shortcut or starting the program automatically after installation. It looks like they don't size the GUI install screen properly. At that screen, I just hit 'Enter' and the installation proceeded.

    Adobe is still very clumsy and doesn't adhere to linux standards very well, but AIR and the Ephemeris did install for me, and appear to run properly. It would be nice to be able to type in lat and long directly, as I have a number of places that I could just type coordinates in faster than scrolling and zooming a google map.

    There are several ways to get tide information with free programs in linux.

    Lee

  6. #6
    Lee L's Avatar
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    I recommended this software to friends at an astronomy meeting last night. When I started it up this morning (to get a screenshot to include in an email with a link to the download website) there was a new version available, which the program downloaded and installed with a click and a password verification for installation (under linux).

    Perhaps these features were there before, but the new presentation makes them much more readily evident to me. The features are exactly what I wanted to see added. There is a timeline for the date in use on the right hand ephemeris panel. You can move a slider along the timeline, which gives alt/az numbers for both sun and moon in the right panel, and thinner lines to the current azimuth (compass bearing) of the sun and moon in the google map panel for any time of day you choose. There are also forward/back arrows by the timeline which go directly to the next 'event' for the day, including various twilight times (civil, nautical, and astronomical) and moon and sun rise and set.

    This makes it a much more complete tool, as shots at exact sunrise and sunset are rare, and it's nice to be able to find where the sun and moon will be when above the horizon a known number of degrees. The sun and moon both have apparent N/S motion as the earth turns, so exact rise and set azimuths are not the same as when they are up several degrees above local trees, buildings, mountains, etc. Using the google satellite map view, you should be able to very accurately position yourself for the shot you want.

    You can also move a gray marker to any point on the map. It will give you distance, difference in elevation, and visual angular altitude to that point so that you can tell whether it will block the sun or moon, or how high above that feature the sun or moon will be at a given time.

    Lee
    Last edited by Lee L; 11-05-2009 at 12:44 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7
    cmo
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    Just in case he reads in APUG:

    Thanks, Stephen, this is great! I always wanted a tool like this.

  8. #8
    keithwms's Avatar
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    I have been using google earth for this.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  9. #9
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keithwms View Post
    I have been using google earth for this.
    The Photographer's Ephemeris uses a google earth map inside a window. It superimposes lines to sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, and to current sun and moon azimuths at any time, all color coded, on top of the google map. You can also choose the google map presentation among the usual suspects: road map, satellite photo, topographical, etc. In addition the rest of the display shows numerical data including both azimuth and altitude for sun and moon. It also has the ability to quickly change location (with stored user location presets) and date and time. There is also a timeline for a chosen date with forward and reverse arrows that skip to the next solar or lunar event (rise, set, etc). It's a very complete and well integrated tool.

    Lee

  10. #10
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Ooh. Kewl.

    But can it also dispatch a drone to take the right shot....
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

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