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Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunset

The Photographer’s Ephemeris  (TPE) is one of those programs that every landscape photographer should have. I have been aware of this software for some time but never got around to downloading and using it until a recent incident. I was photographing in Crex Meadows in May. I had gone up to photograph the sunset and moonrise. I picked out a new location for a sunset photo only to discover that the sun was setting in the wrong location. By that time I also discovered that I was in the wrong place to photograph the moonrise. That was the last straw. When I came back home I immediately downloaded Photographer’s Ephemeris and started using it to plan a trip to the Superior, Wisconsin area where I wanted to photograph the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse with the sun behind it. I was also looking for a location in the area to photograph the sunset. Photographer’s Ephemeris  provided me with the information to accomplish both goals.

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse Sunrise

Now before I travel into an area where I will likely be photographing the sunrise or sunset I check Photographer’s Ephemeris before I make the trip.  On a recent trip to the U.P. of Michigan I used it to plan photographic locations in Escanaba, Seney National Wildlife Refuge and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore outside of Munising, Michigan. The one thing the program does not do is tell you whether or not you will have a great sunrise/moonset or sunset/moonrise but it can put you in the right place for a successful shot.

Wisconsin Point Lighthouse Sunset

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is available free for Mac/Windows and Linux computers and is available for a small fee for iOS from ITunes. There is now a version available for the Android phone. TPE also requires you acquire a copy of Adobe “AIR” which is also free. The creator does ask for a donation to help the continued development of the desktop version of The Photographer’s Ephemeris.

Grain Elevators Superior Wisconsin Sunrise

When the Android version came out I quickly purchased it. I still use my computer for trip planning. Once on location I use the Android version to identify the exact location I want to be at sunset/moonrise or sunrise/moonset. The Photographer’s Ephemeris was a very simple install on my desktop and laptop. As I noted you need to install Adobe”AIR” on your computer then download The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Once I was finished with the download and install I found the software was intuitive enough to start using without reading or viewing the tutorials.

Sand Point Lighthouse Moonrise

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a software package that allows you to plan where the sun and moon will be in relation to a specific location at a specific time. In the example I mentioned above I wanted to photograph the sun rising behind the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse. I knew from a previous trip that this would likely take place around the summer solstice but I didn’t know just when. Viewing the location using The Photographer’s Ephemeris I could see the times that I would most likely be able to get this shot.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Sunrise

The Photographer’s Ephemeris uses Google Maps as its basis. When the program opens you have  a search bar at the bottom of the screen. Simply type in the location and Ephemeris takes you directly to the location. A red marker will appear on the map indicting the location. Lines will appear on the screen indicating the direction of sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset. You have a choice of street maps, satellite imagery, imagery with street names or street maps with terrain. The program allows you to drag the marker around the map or use key commands to move it. You can move the red marker to the exact location you will be photographing from.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Miners Beach Sunset

After using it a couple of times I found there were a several of things I though the program should be able to do including moving the red marker into the area you are looking at. Sure enough the program allows you to do that. All I had to do was go though the great tutorials.

I strongly recommend this program for any landscape photographer.

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One Comment

  1. Love your work. I am a new amateur. I love your work. I will be in the Munising area October 10-15. Feel free to check out my work on Flickr. Mayerdavid1978. Would love to get some tips from you.


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