Some Tools of the Trade

Traipsing all over California, let alone the rest of the world, "hoping" to catch a good shot is a surefire road to disappointment in this hobby. Especially at my age.  I've discovered that planning is the "99% perspiration" part of this process that pays the dividends in an increased keeper rate. There are lots of photography tools out there, and the increasing sophistication of smart devices has spawned hundreds. My overall favorite on the iPhone is The Photographer's Ephemeris, or TPE for short. Yes, there are newer, more Web2.0-ish tools, and I think I have tried most of them. But I keep coming back to TPE. Perhaps it is because I have invested in learning it, and I like the development team, but whatever the reason, it works. And probably as much if not more than even better focusing techniques, TPE has increased my keeper rate. That's because it has increased my odds of finding what I want when I get to a location. There's nothing quite like getting to a location and discovered that you don't know precisely where to be to get the shot you want. Wasting timer scouting for the spot, instead of getting set up for the shot, is frustrating. Nothing is a substitute for on-location scouting, but sometimes, we don't get that opportunity. So, advance work on your desktop with TPE, and then making sure it's all synced to your phone or tablet, is a big asset.

I read more than once that a key component of good landscape photos is repetitive visits and shoots. And that is true. It makes sense intellectually, and I have confirmed it experientially. The next best thing is a toolkit like TPE [PhotoPills is a good, perhaps more modern,  alternative, and some people like it better] and a resource like Shot HotSpot. Attached to this post is a screenshot [from Google Chrome; TPE desktop does not run yet in the current Safari] of TPE prep for my exploration of a shot of Mt. Shasta. Love that place, but finding an unimpeded shot of this volcano is not a trivial task. There is a trail around Castle Lake and Heart Lake that might yield the kind of shot I want. I plan to find out in a couple of days. This is just a scouting trip; no serious shooting yet.


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