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Thread: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

  1. #1

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    What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    I find these apps very helpful...

    Artist's Viewfinder, Mark II

    For iOS, US$30/€33

    As the first photo below shows, this is a digital Director's Viewfinder. Fairly new to the app, I have it on my iPhone and find it invaluable for scouting. If I like a particular view with a particular focal length, I can capture it from the app for later planning. It sure is a step up from a wire or cardboard frame and a piece of string. It looks like this app has been around for several years, and it's actively developed. No instructional videos on YouTube, but there's a thorough 75 page manual. For me, the performance easily justifies the price.

    Photo Pills and PlanIt!

    For iOS and Android, $10

    These are two of the leading apps for planning astronomy photographs. They're also brilliant for planning an outdoor shoot if you want to know the path of the sun or moon and where either will be, at a given time, in relation to your camera and subject. Photo Pills was used to plan the second photo below, telling the photographer in advance exactly where the moon would be in relation to his camera, and when. Want to know what days of the year a specific phase of the moon will be in the position in the photo? Or, when you can photograph Manhattanhenge over the next year, and what the view will be from a given position? These apps will tell you.

    The developers of these apps are in competition and they are both proactive on enhancements and new features. Each app has its adherents. There's a view, which I share, that Photo Pills is more intuitive; or, put another way, that PlanIt! has a longer learning curve. Both have YouTube channels with detailed instructional videos. I like the presentation style of the Photo Pills videos, but some may prefer the more businesslike PlanIt! videos. I have both apps, due to curiosity and because they're inexpensive, but you only need one of them. These apps offer a lot of information. They're OK on a phone screen, but I prefer to use them with the larger screen of an iPad.


    Artist's Viewfinder Screen with User Specified Frame Lines

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Photograph Planned with Photo Pills

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by r.e.; 6-Aug-2021 at 12:57.

  2. #2

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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    I use the The Photographer’s Ephemeris https://photoephemeris.com. Its a map-based Sun, Moon, and Milky Way calculator with some nifty augmented reality features.

    Comes for desktop and iPhone

  3. #3

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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    Quote Originally Posted by lassethomas View Post
    I use the The Photographer’s Ephemeris https://photoephemeris.com. Its a map-based Sun, Moon, and Milky Way calculator with some nifty augmented reality features.

    Comes for desktop and iPhone
    Right. Photographer's Ephemeris is the long-standing established player. Photo Pills and PlanIt! are the new kids on the block, trying to take over the sun, moon, stars market.

  4. #4
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    I've been using my Olympus E-PL1 micro 4/3 camera as a director's viewfinder for my 4x5 large format camera. I use its zoom lens to select which 4x5 lens. Plus I can switch to monochrome or color depending on which film I'm using. I also use it as a light meter checking the histogram and blinkies for clipping. I can shoot a picture of the subject for future reference. I also use the video mode to record the camera settings I use on the camera along with movements and other pertinent data I transcribe when I get home. I don't have to fiddle around writing things down.

    A smaller P&S would be better. But their aperture settings don't go small enough maybe to f/7 or f/9 while the Olympus goes down to f/22. Although I lost my eye-level viewfinder, that's a nice feature to use in bright sunlight if you're considering a camera as a light meter and/or director's viewfinder.

  5. #5
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    I use topographic maps, always carry a thomas guide or printed out current/up-to-date map available from the local county for the areas I will be traveling in/through, and have gps on my smart phone(assuming no service in areas, hence the maps). Have a friend who is a AAA member get you some free maps if you're not a member.

    Cardboard windows cut to your chosen format/frame size takes no batteries, is lightweight, and can be made in 5mins or less. Put a shoestring loop on them and hang em around your neck.

    I "scout" with a DSLR if the required walk is longer than 200m from the car. Unless I know it's good, I can always burn some extra calories doing two trips. Having some digital 36mp stills also affords me some backup plans if something happens with the film.

    LESS IS MORE

  6. #6

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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Stone View Post

    LESS IS MORE
    Which is why I'm now using the apps mentioned in post #1 instead of all the stuff in your post above

    Topographic maps in hard copy? I hate to tell you this, but when I fly an airplane all the maps (aeronautical charts) are on an iPad. Same for my nautical charts. Are paper topographic charts even being updated at this point?

    Just received the 4x5 and 8x10 film holder sleeves that you make. Really nice, even if you are a bit of a Luddite.

  7. #7
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    Which is why I'm now using the apps mentioned in post #1 instead of all the stuff in your post above

    Topographic maps in hard copy? I hate to tell you this, but when I fly an airplane all the maps (aeronautical charts) are on an iPad. Same for my nautical charts. Are paper topographic charts even being updated at this point?

    Just received the 4x5 and 8x10 film holder sleeves that you make. Really nice, even if you are a bit of a Luddite.
    You have power on an airplane for an iPad. But not so if you're hiking in the wild.

    As an aside, I use to printout my 24k topo maps on Waterproof paper. It doesn't tear or crease and lasts "for ever". It's pricey for about a dollar a sheet. But you can print on both sides with your inkjet printer. Check out if laser color printers work. I'm not too sure because of the heat. You can write on it in the field and all printing lasts. I haven't tried this brand so maybe you can get a sample from them to try with your printer.
    https://www.amazon.com/iGage-Weather...8421943&sr=8-3

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    Was that a 'polite' insult?

    some of us like LF for it's non computer process

    sure i am all over this site, BECAUSE it is full of luddites

    i vastly prefer film or plate capture with optical printing

    I use modern toys that will fall us just when we really need them, because they exist for a while, temporary brain food

    I also capture souls any way I can



    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    Which is why I'm now using the apps mentioned in post #1 instead of all the stuff in your post above

    Topographic maps in hard copy? I hate to tell you this, but when I fly an airplane all the maps (aeronautical charts) are on an iPad. Same for my nautical charts. Are paper topographic charts even being updated at this point?

    Just received the 4x5 and 8x10 film holder sleeves that you make. Really nice, even if you are a bit of a Luddite.
    Tin Can

  9. #9

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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    Was that a 'polite' insult?

    some of us like LF for it's non computer process

    sure i am all over this site, BECAUSE it is full of luddites

    i vastly prefer film or plate capture with optical printing

    I use modern toys that will fall us just when we really need them, because they exist for a while, temporary brain food

    I also capture souls any way I can
    Insult? If you're trying to show that you have no sense of humour, you're doing a great job of it.

    The "insulting sentence" refers to Daniel Stone's sleeves for film holders. This is the thread that I started about them yesterday: Film Holder Sleeves: Gnass Gear & Stone Photo

    You've not only read that thread, you've posted in it. Maybe one day you'll find at least a rudimentary sense of humour.

  10. #10

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    Re: What Scouting/Planning Apps Are You Using in 2021?

    For me, the number one "planning" app is google maps, though I don't really use it on a phone or iPad, but rather at home, figuring a place to go, finding interesting locations, even figuring out how you get there. Once I'm actually travelling, I don't use it, because as a navigational GPS app, it sucks (for my purposes.) By that point, I load routes into my Garmin (a very old one) but it works perfectly for me.

    For the last 15 years (except last year) my father and I have done 2000-3000 mile motorcycle trips around the southwest every year, and a huge part of my enjoyment was planning routes to find interesting and beautiful places. That whole processes substitutes for the first half of photo scouting. Street view gives me a ground level view of the locations, so I can see the environs, traffic, population density. It doesn't get too close to many locations where I actually want to photograph, but it gives a good sense of what I'll find there. Street view also shows linked photos so I can see places off the road. If I see a huge cluster of photos at a location, I know its heavily visited. Many times that will actually turn me off, since I don't really want to fight crowds to get a photo, but it can still hint at possible other locations.

    Once I get to a location, my process is more old school--I just drive around looking for interesting things. I used to hike around, but 15 years ago an idiot driver made sure I can only walk short distances. I use a viewfinder off a Technika to find a spot for a photo I want to take, then I mark the ground somehow--if its sand, like 90% of New Mexico, I just use my foot to draw an X in the ground, otherwise, just stack a couple of rocks. or similar. The viewfinder tells me what focal length lens I need, so I walk back to the vehicle, grab only what I need, and return to the spot, setup and take the picture.

    For a number of years I used an app on my phone to record all my photo information--camera, lens, exposure settings, GPS--but moving to large format, has made me less worrysome about recording too many details. (during my digital years, I always used a camera with a built in GPS to record the location of every shot, so when I'd go into Aperture, I could see all my photos layed out on a map. May of my 35mm shots (the digitized version) have lat/log attached.) Today I just use a little notepad that Stearman sells. I'm slowly building to the point in 7 years when I retire and I can ditch my smart phone entirely.

    I don't use anything to plan specific shots, partly because they seem to contribute to overly composed shots, which I really don't like. I have a friend (a digital friend) who uses apps like that extensively. He plans shots months in advance so he knows the exact day and time he needs to take his shot to have the sun framed by the branches of a tree or somthing like that. I prefer the serendipity of the moment (though I will likely use something like that in a couple years when I travel to Durango, Mexico for the upcoming solar eclipse (April 2024)--when something only happens for 2 minutes, serendipity to a weak partner.)

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