A Pill To Get Hooked On – PhotoPills

July 22, 2013 ·

Kevin Raber

The Planner Screen for PhotoPills, So much information, So well done.

A Tool Every Photographer Should Have

It’s a rare occasion these days when a new app makes an appearance that raises the bar for all others. For photographersPhotoPillsmay be just that app. Recently introduced for the IOS platform and specifically iPhone, PhotoPills sets a new standard of being an app that photographers can’t live without.

This is an app that really does it all for any landscape or location photographer. And, it has augmented reality to boot. I have worked with this app now for a few days and I am blown away by how thorough and well thought out it is. The app is pretty intuitive but it pays to spend some time on PhotoPills web site and viewing thetutorials. They are well done and will help you get the most out of this useful tool.

Calendar moon

Here is what PhotoPills is . . . A  Map-Centric Natural Light Planner – Photo Planning Manager – Location Scouting – 10.500 Locations – Sun, Moon Finder – Shadows – Obstacles – Sun, Moon, Twilights, Magic Hours Info – Sun, Moon, Milky Way, Celestial Equator, Polaris, Circumpolar Stars 3D Augmented Reality (AR) Viewer – Sunrise, Sunset Calendar – Moon Calendar – Perigees, Apogees – Time Lapse, Star Trails, Spot Stars, Long Exposure Calculators – Direct, Inverse Advanced Depth of Field Calculator- DoF, Hyperfocal Table – Direct, Inverse Field of View, Subject Distance, Focal Length Match Calculators – DoF, FoV 3D AR Viewers – Complete User Guide – and Much More…

I couldn’t help myself as I started to work with this app. I zoomed out of my current location and could instantly see on the planner screen where daylight and night were in the world and by what date and time, but also where the golden hour light was. I could see the direction where the sun would come up and set as well as the moon. Sunrise and sunset times were also shown on this screen.The interface is very clever as you can select a date and location and then slide the dots on the bottom part of the day to see direction and times for the sun and moon. Frankly, I was addicted and was choosing a number of places that I have been to in the past to see the results. I kept thinking what a difference it would have made if I had had this application on many oocasions in the past.



I was amazed at the augmented reality portion of this app. Literally you point your iPhone at a subject and the app will show you where and when the sun will be in the image.  The night version shows moon and star position. Very clever!


And, for real fun the calculator portion of this app is brilliant. I enjoyed a glass of wine while exploring this portion of the program. There are a number of different calculators and they cover just about anything photographic you could think of. It was fun to input different variables and see the results. You can calculate depth of field, angle of view for your particular camera brand and lens, and even explore how star trails will look for different exposure times.

Are you into doing time lapse photography? Are you tired of doing the math to figure out how many exposures and how far apart they have to be to fill a certain length of recording? With this app it is all calculated for you. I input that I wanted to have a 30 second clip spanning 5.5 hours with a playback speed of 25fps with an image size of 4 megs each. PhotoPills showed me that I needed to set the camera to shoot a frame every 26 seconds. I would shoot a total of 750 images and it would take up 2.93 Gb on my SD card. I would have spent 15 minutes trying to figure this out on my own.


This is an app you need to get now. Simple as that. It’s available at the Apple App Store. At this time it is for iPhone only but they are working on a universal app so it will work on an iPad too. And, the upgrade when available will be free. Frankly it will be nirvana when it is available for the iPad. The price is $9.99 USD and worth every cent. There is also a comprehensive help section built in plus a great set of tutorials online. For more information and to view the tutorials visit PhotoPills Web Site.

There are a few other programs out there that have been the mainstay for a long time. The Photographer’s Ephemeris an dLightTrac are two apps that you should also look at. All of these apps offer great and useful information. PhotoPills though takes things to a new level.

Kevin Raber
July, 2013

Updated: March 10, 2015

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Photography is my passion and has been for 45 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of pictures taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through Rockhopper Workshops and other projects as well as teaching at my Gallery in Indianapolis.

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