I am really excited to announce that we just had a new release on Photographer Field Tools (Pro) where we added the ephemeris features. Great photos depend on the great light which usually come from the Sun and Moon. The ephemeris features will allow you to find the Sun and Moon position at any given time and location so that you can plan your trip accordingly, previsualize the scene with Sun/Moon in the composition. It even allows you to find the exact date and time where Sun or Moon or both appear at the exact position on the sky.

In the picture below, I am looking for the Moonrise behind the Half Dome. The camera was pinned at the Tunnel View. The scene location was pined at the peak of the Half Dome. The elevation tells me the viewing angle from Tunnel View to the peak of the Half Dome is 5.9° and azimuth of 75.9°. Using those two angles, the app will find the date and time where a full moon will appear at the location with +/- 5°. You can then review each time to find where the exact location of Sun and Moon. As the screenshot below shows, at Feb 13, 2014, the Sunset and Moonrise will happen at the same time. You will see the Half Dome glowing in the Sunset color and a full moon will rise above the Half Dome slightly to the right of its peak. I will certainly go there on that day to take such a picture 🙂

tunnel view - half dome - moonrise - sunset

Since the above event is a thing in the future, I decided to find an existing photo in the past and simulate what was happening on that time using PFT. After some search, I found a photo by Willie Huang at http://www.flickr.com/photos/inter211/8357007849/meta/ where he was generous enough to share all the EXIF info which helps me to know the date/time was Dec 27, 2012 5:27 PM. He took it at 50mm focal length. He also described what happened on that evening. He said the Sun was down already when Moon came out. The Moon came out behind the Cloud Rest (which I marked it on the screenshot below). As you can see, the moonrise line (the purple line) points at it exactly. By the time Willie took this picture, the moon is at 9.5°. The sun is at 8.0° below horizon already (which is still at nautical twilight). If there was still sunset orange light on the Half Dome, it would be even better.

tunnel view moonrise 2012  willie huang

tunnel view

(Courtesy of Willie Huang, http://www.flickr.com/photos/inter211/8357007849/)

I live in the beautiful San Diego. There is a pier called Scripps Pier. It is very long, straight pier that points to the ocean. On two days of every year, you will see a flock of photographers gathered under the pier. The reason is the sun will set just below the pier. The pier is pretty long so the viewing angle is less than 1 degree. By using the ephemeris feature, I can easily find out the two days May 1, 2014 7:31 PM and Aug 10, 2014 7:39 PM. One day before the two dates should also be good because it means the Sun will be slightly above the sealevel when centered under the pier. See you there! 

scripps pier

I had verified the result with dates in the past. You can google “Scripps Pier Sunset” to find photos taken in the past. Here is one of the dates in 2012. http://www.flickr.com/photos/globe_trotter/8011158057/.