Mobile devices have really changed how outdoor photographers research and scout locations, use their gear, and run their business’. I’ve been using an iPhone and iPad for a few years, so a post about my favorite apps is long overdue. I’m going to start with the iPhone in this post, and cover the iPad in the next.
Because I almost always have my iPhone with me, it has become a crucial field device in my landscape photography. I use apps that help me scout locations, calculate exposure times, predict weather and solar events, and track my gps coordinates.
I choose apps based on 3 criteria:
- have clean and intuitive user interfaces (no fumbling through confusing menus)
- operate efficiently (give me the data I want when I want it, which is usually right away!)
- are truly useful (no time wasters or bloated features)
I don’t mind paying more for an app I find useful and adds to my creative work, so I’m not using price as a criteria here. Value is what its all about for me.
So based on that, here are my favorite apps in no particular order.
- Focalware – simple app that provides direction and elevation of sunlight at any time, plus sunrise / sunset times. There are many apps that do this, but for me this one just works.
- MyCast – my go-to weather app with good graphics and detailed forecast info
- Aye Tides – a must have app if you want to keep track of tidal changes (probably my most used app when I’m photographing the Hudson River or along coast lines)
- TrueDof-Pro – crucial for determining proper hyperfocal distance, easy to use, and invaluable for landscape and nature photography.
- PhotoBuddy – a really great general purpose app for photographers, extremely versatile, the first I ever purchased. These days I mostly use it for calulationg exposure times when using different ND filters, and its ease of use keeps me from looking for dedicated alternatives. If I could only have one app, this would be the one.
- Viewfinder Pro- ingenious app that provides a digital viewfinder for determining which focal length you need for a particular composition. For example, in the screenshot below showing my desired composition, I would need a 70mm focal length using my Canon 1DS Mk III. Great way to train your eye and save time when choosing lenses.
- GPS Kit – the best GPS app I’ve used for mapping and tracking routes, locations, and interesting data that can be used for sharing with others.
- Photographer’s Ephemeris – another fantastic app for tracking the direction of the sun and moon, plus uses google maps for great looking and visual user interface. I still prefer Focalware when I’m out in the field and need a quick reading, but if you have a good internet connection, PE is awesome. Highly recommended.
One quick note is that many of these apps will deplete your battery faster when in use, so I carry and recommend an extra power source for your iPhone. I really like the Trent iMirror battery pack which allows you to charge the phone while in the field. If you prefer a case with built-in battery, then the Mophie Juice Pack works great as well and adds that extra protection for outdoor activities.
If you have any apps that you use and recommend, please let me know in the comments below. I’m always on the lookout for great apps, and would love to hear your recommendations. Thanks for reading!
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