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How-to's Travel Stories

Location Scouting - Part One

Rick Walker (walkerr)


Keywords: photography, location, scouting, planning, how, to, landscape, wildlife, travel, maps, apps, guides, internet, search, blogs, weather

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Software Apps

Software apps for mobile devices are usually quite inexpensive, and it is amazing what they can do for you. You’ll find ones for telling you sunrise and sunset times, sun and moon angles, phases of the moon, when the high and low tides are - you name it.  Just search for the information you want at an online app store or via a search engine and you will probably get more candidates than you want.

One of my favorite planning tools, which also has an associated web version, is The Photographer’s Ephemeris, (TPE). When combined with tools like Google Earth, TPE makes planning a snap. You can see where the sun comes up, where it does down, similar things for the moon, and there is even a new feature (Skyfire) that can help you determine whether a sunrise or sunset will be good several days in advance. I highly recommend this app.

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TPE screenshot

Click for an enlargement

 

For weather, there are a large number of apps available. The one I use for weather in the US is Storm. In addition to the usual hourly and daily forecasts, it also has radar imagery. That can be extremely helpful for determining what will happen with clouds and rain. It will also help you determine if conditions will be overcast for a while, how long of a break there might be, all sorts of variations. The key with weather apps is radar imagery in addition to the normal forecast information.

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Storm screenshot

Click for an enlargement

 

If you have a smart phone, you probably have at least one mapping application on that phone. These can also be very helpful, and a good trick to use if you are traveling to an area with limited or no internet is to browse the map in detail while you are still connected. Zoom to the amount that you are likely to use in the field and pan all over the area of interest. The maps will be stored on your device, and you will not need a cell phone signal to show you where you are. Most smart phones receive and process GPS signals, and that is all you need.

GPS Tagging

This could easily be a separate article, but if you have the means to geotag your images, do so. If you ever go back to an area, it makes it far easier to remember where you were. It also helps you share that information with others. You can record GPS tracks on a mobile device and sync them with photos later, you can have a GPS device attached to your camera, or you can tag photos from memory after the shoot using a photo app. All of these work.

Summary

Hopefully this information adds to your existing knowledge of planning tools and strategies. It is really difficult to shoot in an area successfully without at least a bit of planning, so I encourage you to try some of these methods and see how they can help. Happy photography!

 

(15 Votes )
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Originally written on December 14, 2015

Last updated on April 12, 2016

Rick Walker Rick Walker (walkerr)

Awarded for his con tributed articles published at the Resources Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in multiple areas Master Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art and science of photography   Donor Ribbon awarded for his most generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Colorado Springs, USA
Gold, 17638 posts

4 comments

Scott Sternberg (Bump57) on December 29, 2015

Awarded for his high skill level in Landscape and Nature Photography and willingness to share his learning experiences to help others. Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Laureate Ribbon awarded as a winner in a Nikonians Best of Images Annual Photo Contest

Very useful information Rick. Thanks for taking the time to put that together.

Rick Walker (walkerr) on December 24, 2015

Awarded for his con tributed articles published at the Resources Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in multiple areas Master Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art and science of photography   Donor Ribbon awarded for his most generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

I'm glad people found the article useful. :)

Paul Blais (PBlais) on December 19, 2015

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the 2017-2018 fundraising campaign

Right On Rick! Great Landscape Photographers work hard at the chance of being lucky! You never know what you will get but you maximize your odds! It's no assurance you will come away with a master shot but you stack the deck as often as you can and go out often! Show up early and stay a little late is the other advice. You really won't know exactly when the best shot will be. I use PE and weather radar on any shoot I plan. I use PE to find places to go too! I then scout them to find the exact spot for a sunrise so I know where to go in the dark.

Richard A Nagel (rnagel) on December 15, 2015

Rick, Excellent article full of great ideas and resources. Thanks for sharing.. Rich

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