When planning for a photo or video shoot, understanding the light is important. Depending on the time of year, time of day and weather, lighting conditions can change drastically. How do you evaluate the light of an environment? In this movie, author Richard Harrington demonstrates ow to use the app Lighttrac to understand a location’s lighting.
- While getting familiar with a location is useful, it's also great to understand the light, and remember, depending upon the time of year, as well as time of day, lighting conditions can vary greatly. Let's explore one possible app that you can use called LightTrac. What I like about LightTrac is it makes it very easy to evaluate a location. You can take a look at a true map view, or a satellite view to make it a bit easier, depending upon your preference. Let's go out to a location we're going to be shooting at a little bit later.
I'll tap Location. Let's go out to Occoquan, where we're going to be shooting a little later. I can see the river here, and some potential shooting locations. Now, this view makes it quite useful to get an idea of the overhead. And with the location, you can also type in a very specific address if you need to. But, this is quite useful here, as we can get familiar where we're going to be shooting, and see some of the major areas.
Now, in this case, there are some boats on the river, as well as a small bridge here which I'm interested in. So, let's go into that area there, and get familiar with what's going to happen. Well, in this case, I can type in a date. So, let's go forward for a fall shoot, where there's going to be less light. And you see that the lighting conditions change very dramatically from month to month, as the days get longer or shorter. So I'll mark that, and now I've got a pretty good idea.
This shows me where the sun's going to be coming in at sunset versus sunrise. So, in this case, sunrise is going to be around 7:25 a.m., and sets around 6:30 at night. You'll also note that you can see the angle of the sun. For example, close to noon, it's pretty much directly overhead. Around one o'clock, it hits that 180 degree mark of directly overhead. Well, this gives you a good idea of the angle of the sun.
For example, that it rises, gets higher and higher in the sky, reaching its peak right about there, and then proceeds to set. Well, that could be useful if we were dealing with some tall buildings that we needed to plan for. Now, these particular buildings here look to be residential homes. I'm not dealing with any skyscrapers or mountain ranges, so I have less to worry about in this particular location. But being familiar with the lay of the land and any potential obstacles, such as a large skyline or a ridge of mountains, can affect your sunrise and sunset.
Now, you'll notice that it puts some markers here, one for sunrise, one for sunset, and one for when the moon is going to be visible. We can also switch from sun to moon to get a pretty good idea of when the moon comes in with visibility. It looks like it rises around 11:09, and as we get later and later into the evening, well by about nine o'clock it's essentially gone. This is important to understand. When we're having phases of the moon, the moon does not disappear, but because of the position of the Earth and other factors, the moon might be risen in the sky in the middle of the daytime.
Depending upon lighting conditions, it is possible of course to see the sun and moon at the same time. But if you were trying to plan a shoot where it was really dark at night, and the moon was very visible, well, you might have to change the date of the shoot. For example, let's go in here to Date, and roll later in the month. And you see that the moon's position has changed dramatically. Now the moon is going to be available well into the evening. In fact, if we look here, it's going to be visible almost until sunrise.
Now the sunrise will eventually come in and obscure it, but we've got a wide range of time here where the moon is going to be widely visible, well into the evening, and the next day. Now, if you want to come back to a particular location, you can tap Save This Spot to bookmark it. And this will make it fast and quick to come back in the future. Feel free to take advantage here. It's just using Google Maps, so you can quickly move in or out of a location as you plan your shoot.
But knowing the height of the moon and the sun as well as their relative position will let you plan for the type of lighting conditions you'll have during that shoot. I find that having a strong familiarity with where my light sources are going to be, and how much time I'm going to have with them, to really impact the type of shooting that I do. Do I need to bring a lot of external light sources, a lot of video hot lights, a lot of flash, or does it look like a potential for a well-lit day. By taking the time to study a location and the time that you're going to be shooting, you'll have a pretty good idea.
Remember, geography, the time of the year, all has a huge impact on the lighting conditions. As you move closer to the equator, for example, days may get longer. Go further north, they can get dramatically shorter. These are the sort of factors that you need to learn. It's not just enough to know what time zone you're in, you need to take geography into account.
In this course, photographer, video producer, and educator Rich Harrington takes you on a tour of the kinds of apps that can streamline photo and video projects of all kinds. Review different iOS and Android apps to simplify your entire production, from planning shoots remotely to recording audio on set.
- Location scouting virtually
- Annotating photos during location scouting
- Creating storyboards
- Slating camera takes
- Recording audio on location
- Forecasting the weather
- Understanding the position of the sun, moon, and stars