In late April or early May, I had a couple of concepts for photos I wanted to take near the downtown area of St. Albert, Alberta. One was to line up the Sturgeon River, Children’s Bridge, and the rising sun. The other was to have a full moon setting over the train trestle. For one shot I would be on one side of the river facing one direction, for the other I would be on the other side of the river facing the opposite direction.
With these concepts in mind, I needed to find out if they were even possible. For the one shot, the sun had to be rising in the right location; and for the other, the moon needed to be setting in the right spot. One option would have been to go out every morning at sunrise for, potentially weeks or months, to see if these conditions were met. The thought of this wasn’t all that palatable. A much better option was to use the planning tool within an app I frequently refer to in my photography. The app, Photopills, provides numerous tools to assist a photographer.
For the sunrise shot, I basically used the map within the tool to line up a position on the river bank, the bridge, and where I wanted the sun to be rising. I then used the search function to determine if that alignment would ever happen and, if so, on what dates would it occur. I was able to confirm that indeed on certain dates that alignment would occur and was able to pick a specific morning to go out and take the shot.
Similarly, for the moon over the trestle photo, I needed to know if there would ever be a date when the full moon would be coming down above the trestle as it set in the early morning and, if so, on what dates would that occur. Again I was able to confirm dates when those conditions would be met and picked the nearest date to try my shot.
Obviously, in both cases the weather needed to co-operate. Heavy cloud would obliterate either shot. For sunrise, a scattering of clouds, as long as none are covering the sun, adds to the scene. For the setting moon, a cloudless sky or at least a clear sky around the moon would be ideal.
For the sunrise photo I set up well in advance of sunrise. Conditions were great with a few clouds in the sky but none on the horizon. On cue the sun rose right where I wanted it to be.
For the moon over the trestle shoot, I really lucked out. The sky was virtually clear and there was a little bit of fog on the river to catch the moonlight. Again, the setting moon was right where I wanted it and I was able to get several shots with it above the trestle and behind the trestle before it disappeared below the horizon. My favourite image is below.
A photographer’s life is certainly made easier when you are able to plan in advance and determine, with some accuracy, the likelihood of the sun or moon being in a particular position at the location you want to shoot and on the date you want to shoot.
Both of these images are displayed in the Landscape Gallery of neilmillerphotography.com.