The Photographer’s Ephemeris Quick Start Guide

If there’s ever one (online) tool that you need if you take photography a bit more serious than casual snapshots, it a sunrise / sunset calculator! There are plenty, but The Photographer’s Ephemeris is very good one. Plus it’s free!

The Photographer Ephemeris

And it’s actually quite easy to use. Without getting too much in to detail, here’s a quick guide to get you going:

  1. Visit the browser application here:
  2. Use the (Google) Maps to go to a location.
  3. Place the “red pin” (top right corner of the map) on to the map.
  4. Once placed you can drag the pin around: left-click + hold the mouse button while dragging.

  1. First thing you’ll notice are the coloured lines overlay: these correspond to the “time line” below the map. Most important (to me at least) are the sunrise (light-yellow) and sunset (orange) time and locations, so you’ll know where they are and when they occur.
  2. As a general rule of thumb: the famous Golden Hour occurs a (very) short period of time after sunrise / before sunset, but be sure to stick around a bit longer AND be sure to get at the desired location plenty of time before sunset or sunrise to give you time to get comfortable. So basically start 1 hour before Golden Hour and stay for 1 hours afterwards (Blue Hour is worthwhile as well!).
  1. In the timeline below the map you can drag the white square across the blue horizontal bar (24h time on the selected date – which you can set at the top left above the map) where you can track the movement of the sun (and moon). This can give you a good idea where and when the sun rises or sets (to get these glorious skies ;))
  2. One final thing: if you press the (left) Shift key you’ll see a new (grey) circle appear, this is called the Shadow circle. Drag the time line slider through the day and notice there is a time (just after sunrise and just before sunset) when the circle turns orange: this is Golden Hour!

Anyway, there’s much more to it but this quick start guide will get you started. If you want to use it on a smartphone, get the app version in the app stores (iOS and Android), unfortunately these are not for free.

Do you use The Photographer’s Ephemeris as well? Do you have any tips, questions or maybe other alternatives that are worth mentioning? Let us know in the comments!


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