Using Google Earth and The Photographers’ Ephemeris together
My commercial photography can keep me away from the landscape for what seems like too long. In a characteristic over-reaction this nearly-midsummer week, I spotted a half decent weather window for Monday-evening-Tuesday-morning. Camera gear, tent, sleeping bag and not much else in the car, I headed off to Wasdale and its mysterious lake, Wastwater.
Why Wastwater, why “mysterious” and why “madness”? Three reasons:
- Photographically, I don’t know Wasdale very well because it takes such a long time to drive to compared to the rest of the Lake District—even if I have led plenty of walks on the hills around it in one of my other lives
- With the first reason in mind, I wanted to see just how useful (to me and my guests and students) using The Photographers’ Ephemeris (TPE) in combination with Google Earth could be
- “Madness” because the days don’t get much longer than at this time of year so I was lakeside until after twilight (11 pm) and up at least an hour before sunrise (3 am)
I’ve been using TPE for some time, specifically to establish light direction, sunrise and sunset times. It’s also great for predicting the angle of the sun to check if a subject will be shaded by higher ground. But I had missed any announcements about enhancements to Google Earth, in particular Groundview, which enables you to view a location as if, yes, standing on the ground. Rather like Google’s Street View but more uplifting. I am indebted to Mike Green and his recent Musing on this topic, which brought me up to date and was, like much of his writings, entertaining to read.
I used the two applications to choose a relatively unfamiliar Lake District location that looked favourably orientated for sunrise and sunset—even if I was more interested in photographing before and after the sun had actually risen or dipped below the apparent horizon. Wastwater seemed to fit the bill.
I picked two lakeside locations using TPE and then checked them out “on the virtual ground” using Groundview in Google Earth. Throughout this post you can see some of the virtual reconnaissance and a couple of real-world “results”. Some of this may help you decide whether or not to add these applications to your landscape photography toolbox. From now on I’ll probably not leave for a less than familiar location without consulting both. For familiar locations TPE is always worth consulting unless you have an almanack in your head—although given that you can get it as an iPhone/iPad app, I suppose you may not need one.
It would be interesting to hear what you think, or about your experience with GE and TPE together. Or maybe about your landscape photography exploits in this part of The Lakes.