As an outdoor shooter, tracking the sun has become an essential part of my routine. In my opinion, the three most important times of the day are sunrise, sunset and of course the blue hour (the 30 minutes or so after sunset). The warmest and most color-rich times of the day to shoot are just after sunrise and just before sunset. The best time to do night photography – at least when the sky is a factor – is the blue hour. But sunrise and sunset changes daily, leaving a very narrow margin of error for us photographers. Traditionally, I had made plans way ahead of time using government and environmental resources – some online, some offline – but that grew tedious. And then I got my smart phone, and I discovered an application that makes things easy for me: Sundroid for Android.
Sundroid is a simple application that will calculate the actual sunrise and sunset based on your location and date. It is accurate to the minute. One can search for a location by city/state or zip code – useful if you’re planning ahead – or if you like, you can also take advantage of your phone’s GPS system to automatically select your location. Additionally, it will also track the moon rise and set, in addition to the moon’s phases (both by name and by percent visibility). The pro version also adds features such as a planet tracker, a calendar of events, alarms and tracking of eclipses and so on. While a lot of those features seem appealing and great, for the needs of most photographers, the free version should be adequate. The free version gives you the basic features – sun and moon rise and set and GPS functionality – which is enough for any photographer.
Of course knowing the sun’s rise and set gives you ample information to plan for a morning or evening golden hours and blue hours. What you shoot during that time is up to you. But making sure you’re in position and ready…Sundroid can help you with that. Sundroid Pro and Sundroid Free are both available, of course, in the Android Market Place for your Android based phone.