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The Best Desktop Planning App for Landscape Photographers

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

In 2008 a software engineer named Stephen Trainor took one of my workshops. During the workshop, I showed students how to use a ruler, a compass, a topographic map, and a bit of trigonometry to answer questions like, “What is the best day to photograph the full moon setting over Longs Peak?” Stephen thought that my approach looked useful but knew there had to be a better way to get the results I so laboriously achieved. He went home and created the first version of the Photographer’s Ephemeris, which quickly became my all-time favorite desktop planning app.


The first version was for desktops only. It was free, but you can’t make a living if you give away your work, so Stephen created paid versions of the app for iOS and Android devices. These versions had many more features, but were limited in usefulness, in my view, by the inherently small screen size of a mobile device. Maps are most useful when they’re big. I love planning my shoots on my 27-inch monitor. For years, I urged Stephen to produce a full-featured version of the desktop app, then charge for it. Last fall, it finally happened.

Figure 1. (Click to enlarge.) The Photo Ephemeris Web Pro Map module. The primary marker is set atop Twin Sisters Peak. The secondary marker is placed atop Longs Peak. The geodetics panel (bottom of map) is circled, as is the secondary marker icon, which turns the secondary marker on and off (center-right). The drop-down menus that control the visibility of the chart and timeline and visibility of the sun, moon, and galactic center direction lines are circled in the upper right. The date is set to August 23rd, 2021 -- possibly the best day in 2021 to shoot the full moon setting over Longs Peak from Twin Sisters.
Figure 1. (Click to enlarge.) The Photo Ephemeris Web Pro Map module. The primary marker is set atop Twin Sisters Peak. The secondary marker is placed atop Longs Peak. The geodetics panel (bottom of map) is circled, as is the secondary marker icon, which turns the secondary marker on and off (center-right). The drop-down menus that control the visibility of the chart and timeline and visibility of the sun, moon, and galactic center direction lines are circled in the upper right. The date is set to August 23rd, 2021 -- possibly the best day in 2021 to shoot the full moon setting over Longs Peak from Twin Sisters.