A Must Have App for Outdoor Photographers

I shoot a lot of interiors and architecture. When I’m shooting the front of homes and pools, I need the sun to be just right. For exteriors, I prefer the sun to hit the front of the house. This not only makes it brighter, but it makes the sky behind it bluer.

front of home

North and south facing homes are the toughest to shoot because the front never gets direct sun.

For pools, I want the sun to be overheard, though an angle where it lights a covered lanai is helpful too. North or south facing pools are not a problem. But if a pool faces east or west, then I have to wait for the right time of day to shoot it.

Pool Deck

Sometimes I’m shooting at twilight and need to know when and where the sun sets to get the best colors in the sky.

Pool at twilight

Well, there’s an app for that. It’s called LightTrac.

LighTrac App on IPad

LightTrac is an app that lets you calculate the position and angle of the sun at any given time for any day of the year. It does the same for the moon as well as giving you the moon phases, sunset and twilight times. In the screenshot above, the yellow line represents the angle of the sun at sunrise. The blue line is sunset and the red line is whatever time you select by using the slider at the bottom.

This is extremely helpful to me because while I can usually tell which way is east and west, I don’t always know where the sun will be in the sky for any given time of year. This app can be useful to just about any kind of outdoor photography. Landscape? Speaks for itself. Portrait? Maybe you want the sun as a hair/kicker light. Wedding? You have one hour for portraits beginning at 5pm. Will the sun be in the bride and groom’s eyes?

There’s just one thing I don’t like about the app and it’s very minor. When I search for a new location it finds the location; but to calculate the sun angle, you have to save it to your locations. You then have to select your saved location and go to the home screen. I wish it would calculate the information after it finds the location without me having to save it. Saving should be an option for my favorite or most visited locations. Like I said, very minor.

The app is $4.99, which is the most I’ve ever spent for any one item on ITunes, but well worth it.

How would you use the app?