Today’s Question: I’m intrigued by the PhotoPills app you’ve referred to for planning photos featuring the moon or sun. In your experience, how accurate is the planning in terms of being able to precisely determine what the moon or sun will align with at the horizon?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The PhotoPills app is surprisingly accurate when it comes to planning for the specific position of the sun or moon. That is especially true when it comes to dealing with terrain. Dealing with man-made objects such as buildings.
More Detail: PhotoPills includes extensive detail about the position of the sun and moon, so you can plan for the specific timing and direction for sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset. This enables you to determine, for example, the specific direction you will need to look to see the moon rise over the horizon.
That information can then be used to plan for an optimal location from which to photograph the sun or moon, so you can include a specific object within the frame along with the sun or moon. The map in the Planner pill within PhotoPills makes this possible, including satellite photo maps and terrain maps, among other options.
Of course, dealing with the height of objects that appear in the frame adds a layer of complexity. For example, even if the sunrise is at 6:00am, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily start seeing the sun at that time. If there is a mountain range in between you and the horizon, for example, you’ll need to take the elevation of the mountain range into account. This is relatively easy to accomplish with the geodetics feature in the Planner, so you can determine when the sun will rise high enough to get above the mountain range, for example.
The PhotoPills map doesn’t include information on the heights of buildings and other man-made objects, but you can still work around these issues by either looking up or estimating the height of such objects, and otherwise dealing with those objects in much the same way that you would deal with terrain.
These various topics are covered in my comprehensive video course on PhotoPills, which I encourage you to view before setting about the task of planning a photo with the app. You can get all the details of my “Photo Planning with PhotoPills” course with a discount included automatically by using this link to get started: