Ansel Adams, the godfather of landscape photography once said, “A great photograph is knowing where to stand.” Sadly, I stood in all the wrong places when I began. I watched in envy as seemingly everyone else was taking pictures of an epic sunrise, an arching Milky Way, or an ethereal cityscape blanketed in fog.
Eventually, I learned that compelling landscape images are created long before the shutter snaps. Like anything in life, having a plan or vision about what you would like to create will massively increase your chances of reaching your target. The same goes for photography.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely respect chance, or what some may call serendipity. But capturing spontaneous events takes a fair amount of planning. Even the man who coined the term “The Decisive Moment”, the great street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, would plan his frame and then wait for life to happen within his photographic stage.
When Preparation Meets Opportunity
Landscape photography is like going to the casino. You can’t control what cards you get, but by learning the game you can increase your odds of winning.
In photography terms, Smartphone apps are essential tools in the image creation process, right up there with your camera, lens, and tripod. You can literally make the stars align with them.
Here are six Smartphone apps I use to plan out my landscape photo shoots. Use them well, and it won’t be long before you get comments on your photos like this, “You always seem to be in the right place at the right time.”
PhotoPills is the best photography app on the market. Period. It’s the photographer’s Swiss Army knife. It does so many things. I use it to plan my astrophotography shoots. I can easily figure out the phase of the moon, the location of The Milky Way, where it will rise, how high, at what angle, and at what intensity. The best part is the 3D augmented reality for finding The Milky Way in the sky.
And that’s just the beginning. Whether you are doing timelapse photography, location planning, tracking the sun or the moon, or calculating your hyperfocal distance, this app has it all. The $9.99 price tag is well worth it considering all you get in return (available for iOS and Android).