Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where is the sunrise?

One of the greatest barriers to filming a sunrise in a new location is determining where in the scene the sun will actually be located when it rises.
To confirm where the sun will be located when it rises, you have to go to the spot twice: once to see where the sun rises, and a second time to actually set up your equipment and take your photos.  If you have to travel any distance to do this, it can be a major discouragement.

With an incredible little app from Google, however, you can determine exactly where (as well as when) the sun will rise in your location.  The app is called "Google Sky Map," and if you have a smartphone, I encourage any photographer to download the app.  While it can be used to locate any planet or other object in the sky (day or night), it's main usefullness is being able to key in a particular date and time through a setting called "Time Travel," and have it show you where the sun is going to rise.  You don't have to be particularly adept at knowing anything about planetary movements or declination or even gps.  Everything is visual.  In my example, you would key in "Next morning sunrise" or "Now" under Time Travel and, as long as you are standing at the location where you want to film, it will show you where the sun is currently (now) or where it will rise (next morning sunrise).  Since it is all visual, it is very easy to understand.  It will even show you a horizon line.  If you get there an half-hour before dawn to set up, when you point your phone in the direction of the sunrise, you will see the sun a few degrees below the horizon and easily determine where it will rise.

You can even point it at the ground and see what planets and stars are currently on the far side of the earth!  I can't say enough about this cool little app.  If you are a photographer, it is a real boon to filming a sunrise.

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