The best apps for outdoor photographers

Smartphone photography and Apps
Smartphone photography and Apps

Every outdoor photographer is equipped with various tools that allow them to achieve amazing shots.  Everything and anything including various camera bodies, lenses, filters, and flashes, you name it, it’s all part of the standard outdoor photography kit.

However, did you know that there are a number of apps that can help you to improve your shots for outdoor photos?  Take a look at the list below and try them out, chances are after you use them a few times you’ll wonder how you ever set out for a shoot without them.



The Photographer’s Ephemeris

So much of outdoor photography relies on getting the right lighting. Unlike being in a studio, when you step outside you’re at the mercy of the weather, the season, and the time of day. The Photographer’s ephemeris helps you to plan your shoot by giving you a huge wealth of information about what the light will be like anywhere in the world at any given time.


Want to see what direction the sun will set in your backyard in 3 months? Yup, you can find that out with this app.  The app also includes light pollution map overlays, which can be especially helpful for astro photographers.




Similar to The Photographer’s Ephemeris, this app will let you know when the golden hour will occur, and what direction the sun will rise and set in any given location.

Photopills might be a better choice for those who specialize in night time or astro photography, however, because this app will show you where the milky way will occur in the night sky at any given time, helping you to line up your shots with foreground elements perfectly every time.




Trying to plan some astro photography shots but not too familiar with the constellations? SkyMap is an augmented reality application that uses your phones GPS and internal compass to show you exactly where different constellations are in the sky. This can be especially helpful for locating the north star if you want to get those incredible star trail shots.


ND Filter Calculator

Many landscape photographers use ND filters to help smooth out the water and sky for dreamy and surreal shots. However, when the ND filter is installed on the camera, it’s impossible to gauge the correct exposure since the camera can’t correctly gauge the light.


This app can help you calculate the correct exposure values to use based on how many stops your ND filter is manufactured to darken the image.


Dark Sky Finder

Unfortunately, light pollution is almost everywhere nowadays, and it can ruin your shots as soon as it starts to get dark. With this app, you can find the locations with the least amount of light pollution so that you can guarantee a clear night sky. This app is especially important if you want to take milky way or aurora photos.


Aurora Forecast

Photographing the northern lights is a dream come true for nearly every outdoor photographer. Unfortunately, the northern lights are unpredictable and it’s tough to plan ahead of time where you need to be to photograph them.

With this app, you’ll get the best chance of seeing and photographing the northern lights, as the data is provided by the NOAA.  While the aurora strength predictions aren’t always accurate, it’s better than nothing.


Tides Near Me

If you like to photograph coastlines, this app is absolutely invaluable.  There’s nothing worse than having the perfect shot in mind only to show up and find out that your once wave filled beach is a barren low-tide mud flat.  Plan your shots with this app in conjunction with light planning apps, and you’ll be guaranteed to get the best results for your seascapes.


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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.

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peter-brandon is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival