The Best Location Photography App You Will Ever Use

Do you like to plan your location shots? Will you be visiting a location and want to know where the sun is going to be at a particular time of the day? Will the building or mountain block the sun right before sunset? Well, if you're like me, you want to know these answers before you get to the location, and that's why you need this app.

In this excellent video by Tony and Chelsea Northrup, the app isn't that much of a secret. The app is Google Earth for the Mac or PC. So, why watch the video now that I told you the name of the app? Because Tony does a great job of demonstrating how to utilize Google Earth to scout your next photography location, not only for determining the position of the sun, because there are other wonderful apps like Sun Seeker or one of my favorites, Dark Sky, for weather information. Using Google Earth gives you so much more information in a visual manner. For example, Google Earth also permits you to develop a rough idea of the composition of the image before you even arrive or where the shadows will be.

Tony demonstrates using Google Earth by zeroing in on the DUMBO area of Brooklyn, a place I visited just this past weekend for Photoville 2019. Because my visit was still fresh in my mind, I could easily relate to what Google Earth was displaying as Tony moved around the DUMBO area. I have to say that the demonstration has convinced me to load Google Earth on my computer, and I'm using it to plan for an upcoming shot I have in a few weeks.

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9 Comments

Stuart Carver's picture

Haha been using Google Earth to plan trips since it was first released, it naturally made its way into my photography workflow subconsciously.. I wish they would offer OS levels of detail on the terrain though, nothing can beat an Ordnance Survey map.

Agreed. Anything from Tony ... I'm not gonna watch it. Sick of that guy every since his clickbait defamation of Steve McCurry.

The follow up was no "apology". It was WORSE than the original. Truly shameful. He corrected almost nothing, and left the original up. The original video was premised entirely on Tony's stupid mistakes and inventions, so it should have been taken down. If you go into his so-called "sources" you realize that all of the key points were either invented by Tony Northrup (what he calls his "original thoughts"; I call them lies), or they were outright dumb mistakes. His so-called "sources" reveal that he did zero actual journalism. He just mis-read Wikipedia and watched some videos on YouTube. He deviously used a bit of video that served his defamation, cutting it off *just* before a viewer would realize that it actually didn't. He spoke to absolutely nobody with firsthand knowledge about how the photo was made or used by National Geographic. Both videos are a travesty and a defamation of Steve McCurry. Now you are spreading this shameful video further by reposting it.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

A good addition to the real planning apps. I use planit and cardrage.

Correct, 'the app isn't that much of a secret'. Been using it for probably close to 15 years now.

Michael Kuszla's picture

Ah ah ah.
I laughed a bit.Because in Switzerland we don't have 3D elements in Google Earth. Mountains seems to be hills, Building do not exist. Say it, you will have a flat view from the ground ah ah ah
Maybe that's a solution for, well, NYC photographer, not for a traveler photographer or a local one outside metropols.

By the way there are plenty of nice apps on the market (sun surveyor, TPE, Rizon, Photo Pills (sorry I d'on't like photo pills, too much gesture, I'm a photographer, not a geek)... Google earth helps a bit, but not the way that Mr Tony tend to explain.

"I have a app!" HaHa, finally after a decade he found Google Earth. Priceless!

lol Tony the Slowpoke.
A more recent tool is Google Earth Studio that lets you do animated fly-bys and zoom transitions to simulate drone shots if you don't have one. If you do have a drone, you can even plan, refine and preview your flight path inside Google Earth before you go on location. You can also export 3D tracking data so you can add motion-tracked VFX in AfterEffects.
https://www.google.com/earth/studio/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5i6tjtVDkA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZljKPIYy8Y4