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Essential Apps for Landscape Photography

Or how to turn your soul-sucking life interrupter of a cell phone into a tool to improve your photography.

We all have one, there benefits are many, but they also draw us away from our life, the cellphone. The idea that we have a portable communication device is great, but unless you are using it as a tool it is a distraction at best, he says as he is types away on his phone.

"I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers." -Ian Leslie, Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It

Here are some of the apps that I use regularly. My focus here is on planning applications rather than the social, photo sharing or editing apps that don't directly improve our photography. Hopefully they will help you as well.

*Note that I am an android user so some apps may not be available on Apple devices.

All in one Photography planner, calculator and much more. Probably the quintessential app for photographers. It has a million functions most of which I don't even know about yet. I find the planner to be very helpful for picking locations. The AR modes are helpful for finding the location of the sun, moon, or even constellations in 3D. There are also calculators for things such as depth of field, star trails, exposure etc. Not free, but one of very few apps that I was willing to pay for and the investment was worth it.

Cloud cover predictor. Free app for both android and Apple. Quite simply great at predicting cloud cover. Shows details on the amount of cloud as well as the altitude they will be at. Nice to know when you are going to get wet but also nice for predicting light levels. Also helpful for Moon phase and estimating just how dark the sky is (bortle). Honestly if I had to pick a downside it has almost too much information.

Tide guide. if you are lucky enough to live close to an ocean and would like to keep your feet (and camera) dry and salt free it is important to check and plan for tides. I am sure there are a number of apps that do the same thing, but I have been using this one, seems simple and accurate. Has current tide conditions as reported from various locations nearby as well as predicted values for the coming days.

GPS maps of local trails. The qathet region that I live in has a plethora of biking, hiking, and horse trails. It is easy to get lost or turned around and this can be very helpful. Also great for finding and planning routes into remote lakes and streams. Users can post trail conditions as well as photos of the trail and sights along the way. Remember to plan ahead and download the area maps before you wander out into nature.

cedars sunset warm nature
Sunset on Cedars - planned using SunCalc

Sun and moon predictor. These are possibly the apps that I use the most. I have lumped them together here as they are from the same developer, and do essentially the same thing with obviously one used for the sun and one for the moon (no points for guessing which is for which). These are simple location based calculators that are used to find out where and when sunrise, or moonset etc. will occur. The ease of use and reliable nature of these apps make them essential. If you want glorious orange hour photos it is important to know where the sun will set or rise: SunCalc. Want to know where the moon will rise to place it behind a boat or on top of building: MoonCalc.

Moon totem supermoon
Super Flower Moon - planned with MoonCalc, Totem carved by Jackie Timothy

For astrophotography I use the free version of Stellarium and Google Skymap both are helpful to anyone who hasn't memorized all of the constellations or wants to find where specific heavenly bodies will be at what time. I use PeakVisor to figure out what mountains I have in frame when I remember to do so.

Insert your favourite map and direction application here, as an android user I stick with google maps, it works relatively consistently. I would love to hear your opinion of these apps, alternates that are your go to, or any you feel that I have missed.

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