As with anything else, mobile apps are beginning to create a huge impact in the world of digital photography too. One of the areas where they can really make your job easy is that of landscape photography.
Let’s take a look at three important apps that every landscape photographer should install on their phones:
1. Blue Hour (Solar Calculator)
Blue hour is an app that can help you determine the exact time at which the golden hours start and finish in the morning and the evening in your current location, so you can plan your landscape photography accordingly.
This app also tells you when the blue hour starts and finishes. Blue hour is a period of twilight in the morning and evening when the sky assumes a bluish shade. It’s after the golden hours and lasts for a brief time, so it’s important to know the exact time of its duration. Shooting during the blue hour can enhance your night shots as a bluish sky always looks better than a black looking sky, like in the images below:
If you shoot at a stage later than the blue hour, then you can get a darker looking sky like the image below:
2. Exposure Calculator
Exposure calculator is an app that helps you calculate exposures in complex landscape shots. The complexity we are referring to here is usually brought on by the usage of ND filters.
A lot of times when you want to use ND filters, especially stronger ND filters, calculating the required shutter speed to get the correct exposure can be a bit challenging.
For instance, let’s look at the shot below:
Here, I wanted to blur the water to such an extent that it seemed very smooth. So I knew that I would require a very slow shutter speed. This made me use the 10 stop ND filter for this shot. To start the process, I dialed in the settings that would bring the exposure meter of the camera to the middle WITHOUT the filter on (I’m using f11 as I did not want to use a very high f-stop number to avoid diffraction issues). Then I input those settings in top part of the app (current exposure), as shown below:
Then I input the same f-stop number and ISO in the bottom part (New Exposure) and then selected the strength of the ND filter that I was using (in this case a 10 stop ND filter).
The app told me that the shutter speed required with the filter on is 171 seconds.
Now all I had to do was to actually put the filter on and then use the bulb mode of the camera to let it take a 171 second shot.
Note that no exposure calculating app is absolutely perfect because the quality of the filter also plays a part in the exposure. So sometimes you may get a slightly under or overexposed picture but it will still give you a good base to experiment. For instance, in this case, the shot above was actually achieved at 151 seconds and not 171.
3. Star Walk 2 Free – Identify Stars in the Sky Map
Star Walk is an app that is great for budding astrophotographers. It basically helps you locate celestial objects like stars and planets. You just need to point your phone at the sky and the app will show you the information of the celestial bodies that are in the sky in the direction of the phone. It feels like looking at the sky with some sort of astro-glasses on, like shown in the image below:
Image credit: Johan Larsson https://www.flickr.com/photos/johanl/
For instance, when you are shooting star trails, one of the common things to do is to locate the North Star (Polaris) because this is the star whose position relative to the Earth does not change, so you can get trails that form a circle around it, like shown in the shot below:
Apps like these are also used to see the location of milky way, like shown in the image below:
So there you have it. Don’t forget to download these three apps the next time you pack your bags and head out shooting.
About the Author
Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.
We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.
I hope to see you inside a course very soon!