Both IOS and Android phones come with many apps that aim to make your life easier including some for camera and social media.
Landscape photographers have particular needs, though, so here are some I use either for planning, scouting, general workflow or final post-processing adjustments:
The Photographer’s Ephemeris
The Photographer’s Ephemeris was the very first photography-related app that I purchased for my smartphone. At the time, I thought that $10 was a high price to pay for an application (keep in mind that most were free back then) but I had heard several photographers talk about it so I gave it a go.
Today, several years later, it still remains my most used photography-related app and it’s an essential part of my workflow.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris helps you plan your outdoor photography. It has detailed information on the sun and moon’s position in the sky throughout the day as well as other useful information such as:
- Time/direction of sun, moon, and galactic center rise/set
- View altitude of sun/moon and the galactic center for any time of day/night
- Milky Way, stars and asterisms visualization via 3D map overlay
- Civil, nautical and astronomical twilight
- Movable map pins: drag and drop the pin exactly where you need it
- Shadow lengths displayed to scale on map
- … and much more.
If I could only use one photography related app it would be The Photographer’s Ephemeris.
Quite similar to The Photographer’s Ephemeris, PhotoPills helps you plan your outdoor photography. I’ve used it since the early days and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with one of the creators to learn how it worked.
I find PhotoPills to be slightly more difficult to use than TPE so I normally don’t use it for planning my regular shots, however, it’s much better when it comes to planning night photography.
Their Night AR feature is an incredibly powerful tool that makes planning and photographing the Milky Way or other night scenes easier.
YR Weather Forecast
The Norwegian weather forecast application Yr.no is my go-to app for staying updated with the forecast. It covers most of the world and tends to be relatively accurate.
Unfortunately, with a recent update, they removed my favorite feature: the visual cloud cover.
The visual cloud cover is still available on their website but I hope they choose to bring it back to the app as well.
WeatherPro isn’t an app that I’ve used extensively but I know several photographers who solely rely on it as their weather forecast.
Since Yr removed their visual cloud cover function, I’ve started using WeatherPro again and I’m enjoying it more and more. The satellite function is really neat and seems to be relatively accurate.
Note that you need to be a premium user to unlock important features such as:
- Full 14-day forecast
- Precipitation radar
- Look 2 hours ahead with radar forecast
- … and more
It’s not only the weather forecast you need to pay attention to when photographing the Northern Lights; the Aurora forecast is just as important.
Unless you’re familiar with Northern Lights predictions and calculations, the Aurora Forecast app is not the most straightforward app to use and at first glance, it might seem confusing but it does contain all the crucial information regarding their activity and is worth the effort to master.
Dark Sky Finder
Night photography can be challenging if you live in or near a major city; light pollution surrounds you and there’s not a great view of the starry sky.
Dark Sky Finder is a map that shows the amount of light pollution at any given location and is a great tool to use in order to find areas with less.
Combine this app with PhotoPills and you have the recipe for a successful Milky Way/Night Sky photo shoot!
My Tide Times
This is a must-have app for anyone who’s regularly photographing seascapes. Knowing the tide times is important not only to get the best shots but also to stay safe.
My Tide Times is a simple but accurate tide table that has information on locations worldwide. I normally use this to access quick information when I’m on the road.
When I need more detailed information, I use a website such as Tides4Fishing if possible.
It’s always great to have a map nearby when traveling to an unknown destination. Having one on your smartphone is even better.
Maps.Me is, in my opinion, one of the best options available. The main benefit is the possibility to download maps and use the app offline, which is especially useful for photographers traveling in foreign countries.
Even with a downloaded map, you’re able to get accurate guidance. If you know the route you’re driving/hiking, you can save it in advance and access it at any time.
Be aware that the maps take a lot of space so don’t save too many at the same time!
I’ve talked about this app previously in my Guide to Long Exposure Photography and I know several of you already use it, but it’s worth mentioning again.
This app will tell you exactly what shutter speed to use when placing a Neutral Density Filter in front of your lens. Simply select the original shutter speed without a filter and specify which filter you’re using, the app automatically calculates the new ideal exposure time.
There are many ways to transfer images from the computer to your phone but my preferred method is via Dropbox. It quickly syncs my phone and laptop and allows me to always have web-prepared images easily accessible.
Dropbox is also a great tool to use for sharing images with clients or potential customers.
Due to slight differences in color and contrast between various devices, I always fine-tune my images on the phone before publishing on Instagram or other mobile applications.
Snapseed has been my favorite smartphone photo editor for several years and it keeps getting better now that Google is putting more focus on it.
There are many adjustments you can do in this app but some of my favorites are:
- brightness, contrast and saturation adjustments
- detail and sharpness
These are some of the apps that I use in my daily life or workflow. I’m sure there are tons of other great apps out there as well so I’m curious to hear which ones you use. Let me know in a comment so we can keep growing this list!