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The 20 Best Apps for Landscape Photographers

The Smartphone Apps that Make Landscape Photography Easier

From the night sky to tides, from planning night photos to sunrises and sunsets, through shooting the moon and ensuring your safety on nature hikes, I’ll show you the best apps every landscape photographer should have in their smartphone in 2024.

In addition to the ability to find exceptional compositions and technically manage photographic equipment, there is an important planning phase behind great shots. This phase includes many factors that need to be considered, such as weather forecasts, tides, position of the Milky Way, solar activity, composition, sunrise and sunset times, moon phases, quality of the night sky, and other crucial elements.

Let’s look together at the best 20 apps that a landscape photographer must have:

Best applications for planning Photos

Behind every photograph there is always meticulous planning and sometimes several attempts.

During our photo tours, we always use these applications to plan and check everything in detail, ensuring that you are in the right place at the right time and in complete safety.

PhotoPills (iOS / Android)

PhotoPills, in my opinion, is the most complete planning app, and every landscape photographer should definitely have it. PhotoPills packs a lot of functionality into one app, allowing for multiple tasks. However, my main use of it is planning the position of the sun and the Milky Way. When I plan a sunset or sunrise photo session, I always use PhotoPills to set the exact time I need to be at the specific spot where I want to shoot, based on the position of the sun and the time of day. The same goes for when I plan my night photography sessions; PhotoPills helps me understand the exact position of the Milky Way and then find the photo composition I want. Its Augmented reality feature is an incredibly powerful tool that allows you to plan and photograph the Milky Way, other elements of the night sky, or the sun in a very simple and realistic way.

I recommend this complete video tutorial “Start Planning your Photos Like a Pro” where you will learn how to use PhotoPills to plan your photos, how to be in the right place at the right time to capture photos as you want them.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Photopills is the application we use the most during our photo tours for detailed planning of our landscape photographs, and we always use it together with another app that you will see below, I am talking about Google Earth.

Google Earth (iOS / Android)

If you have a fast data connection, Google Earth is an amazing tool. With satellite imagery, you can explore and plan a spot in great detail right from your desk. I use it all the time to discover, explore and plan new places I’ve never been.

With a little experience in using Google Earth and PhotoPills in combination, you can plan and decide on your photo composition from home, even in places you have never visited before. Once you get to the place, it will be exactly as you planned it from home; you just have to look for a good first subject to make your photo composition appealing.

I leave here an excellent video tutorial How to use Google Earth Pro

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Best Weather Applications

Getting great photos with extraordinary lighting situations often requires a bit of luck, as we know, but we can monitor the weather conditions as best we can to facilitate a meeting with luck!

Ventusky and Windy

The Ventusky and Windy apps can provide detailed weather analysis, allowing you to check current and future weather conditions in the coming hours or days.

Both apps allow you to see different types of weather maps, such as wind, temperature, rain, cloud cover, and more.

I find particularly interesting the ability to see the various layers of cloud cover, allowing you to select and view only low, medium, high or total cloud cover in the map. This is essential for photo planning, both for day and night photo sessions. During sunrises and sunsets, you can see how the sun will be illuminated and color based on the layers of clouds present. For example, if you notice a percentage of low clouds and no high clouds, you can predict a sunset with fast and colorful three-dimensional clouds. Even during night photography sessions, you can know if high clouds, which usually move slowly, will prevent you from capturing the Milky Way or if there is hope because only fast low clouds will be present.

These apps are available on both iOS and Android, and you can also check out their respective websites, which work very well.

Here you can find different complete guides on how to use Windy app: https://windy.app/guide/all-guides.html

Here you can find the official guide of how to use Ventusky app: https://www.ventusky.com/help

Ventusky

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Windy

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Weather & radar – storm alerts

I find the Weather & Radar app to be one of the best for monitoring short-term weather conditions. This app shows you what is happening above you and how the situation will change in the next few hours, based on the movement of the clouds. This allows us to see if the weather conditions will change in our favor or if it is better to change photo spots or wait for another day. I have been using this app for a long time and recommend it for checking the weather situation in the short term. However, for longer-term forecasts, beyond the next 24 hours, it is not so reliable.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Best Tide Applications for seascapes

Knowing the tide times is important not only to get the best shots but also to stay safe.

Tide Planner (iOS) 

For iOS users, I highly recommend the Tide Planner app. With this app, you can both check tides at locations of interest and be located by the app so that you can find the nearest monitoring station. If you wish to check tides beyond the next 24 hours, you need to buy the full paid version with no time limit.

I recommend using Tide Planner for field planning and for checking the tide level ahead and in the hours to come.

Download for iOS

My tide times

This is a must-have app for anyone who’s regularly photographing seascapes.

My Tide Times app is easy to use and is very accurate, you can check the tide anywhere in the world.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

For a more detailed check, I recommend visiting Tide4Fishing

Best applications for Aurora forecast

The Northern Lights are the dreams of all landscape photographers and travelers.

If you would like to explore the topic further and be in the northern landscapes knowing what you need to do to see and capture the Aurora Borealis, I have written an article “How to photograph the Northern Lights”.

Below, I recommend the two best applications for checking the Northern Lights forecasts

Aurora Forecast & Alerts

My Aurora Forecast app is one of the best applications for understanding and witnessing the Northern Lights. It has a simple interface, making it usable by both tourists and more experienced Aurora hunters. It also provides cloud coverage for your location, and I found this data to be quite accurate and reliable. Along with cloud cover, My Aurora Forecast indicates the percentage chance of seeing the Northern Lights, their intensity, and the direction of solar wind.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Northern Lights Aurora Alerts (iOS) / Aurora Alerts – Northern Lights (Android) 

My favorite among the apps for checking the Northern Lights. Available on both iOS and Android but with two different names. This app allows you to monitor the Northern Lights in real-time and set up a notification to know if the Northern Lights can be spotted in the short period of the night. Northern Lights Aurora Alerts is the best application for short-term forecasting and has various useful features for night photographers and Northern Lights hunters.”

Download for iOS

Download for Android

For a more detailed check, I recommend visiting the website: Space weather Prediction Center

Best apps for marking photography spots and Travel itinerary

A landscape photographer already knows all the places he needs to go on his next adventure and has a well-marked photographic itinerary on the map.

Maps.me

Maps.me is an application that allows you to download maps of any area you’re interested in, completely free of charge. This app has several advantages, the most important of which is that once you download a map of a location, you can consult it during your travels without needing a data connection. Another advantage is that you can import .kmz files created with Google Earth, where you can mark all your photographic spots. Moreover, you can download only the maps of the places you are interested in, taking up less storage space on your device.

Maps.me is an application that every landscape photographer and traveler should absolutely have. With this app, you can reach any destination anywhere without needing a data connection.

Best apps for Stargazing and Astronomy

If you want to learn how to navigate the night sky, these applications allow you to identify the elements present in it very easily; simply point your smartphone towards the sky.

Night Sky (iOS)

Night Sky is a stargazing reference app, the best for Apple users, where you can virtually explore the representation of the night sky to identify stars, planets, and constellations.

Offering an easy-to-use planetarium and nice AR overlays, with this app you will be able to point your phone straight at the sky and learn more about what’s above you.

Download for iOS

Stellarium Mobile – Star Map

Stellarium Mobile – Star Map app is the best for realism. It’s available for both Apple and Android users. It’s a planetarium app that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars. By pointing your smartphone upwards, you can identify planets, stars, comets, constellations, satellites, and other objects in the night sky above you in real-time.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Sky Tonight – Star Gazer Guide

Sky Tonight application is the best for AR. Available for purchase on both Apple and Android platforms, it has a truly simple interface and is particularly fantastic when using its AR function to explore the night sky.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Star Chart

Star Chart app is only available for Apple users and is the best free app. It has a very simple and fast interface.

Download for iOS

Sky Safari 7 Pro

Sky Safari 7 Pro app is the best stargazing app overall, available for both Apple and Android users, but it’s only available for purchase and at a significant cost.

SkySafari 7 Pro is a must-have app for all serious astronomers. It has the largest database of any astronomy app, includes every solar system object ever discovered, nifty telescope control and a sleek planetarium. It also lets you plan your stargazing trips and share your results with your friends.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Best Moon Phase Applications

Whether you want to take pictures of the full Moon or capture the night sky without Moonlight, you need an app to check the Moon phases.  

My Moon Phase – Lunar Calendar

My Moon Phase is one of the best apps for tracking the lunar calendar. It gives informations such as the current moon cycle, moonrise and moonset times as well as extras such as when the next full moon will be and of course the next new Moon. If you’re interested in moon photography, you can also find out when the golden hours and blue hours are so you can take the most beautiful photos. From this app, night photographers can check the presence of the Moon in the night sky and plan on which days it will be possible to capture the Milky Way. 

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Moon Phases Calendar

Moon Calendar app is not only an advanced lunar calendar with notifications, but also a valuable source of information about the Moon in your chosen location.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

The Best Apps to Check the Light Pollution Map

As a lover of night photography, I’m always looking for the darkest skies in order to best capture the night sky.

Light Pollution Map – Dark Sky

Light Pollution Map app allows you to easily locate dark sites where the sky will not be affected by light pollution, allowing the best observance, star gazing, and photography of the night sky. 

This application not only allows you to see and find places with less light pollution but, it has many other very interesting features for night photographers.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

The Best Long Exposure Calculator Apps

If you’re a fan of long daytime exposures, you need an application that helps you choose the right ND filter to use or the exposure time to set.

NDCalc (Apple users)

NDCalc application is only available tu Apple users. It will tell you exactly what shutter speed to use when placing a Neutral Density Filter in front of your lens. Simply select the original shutter speed without a filter and specify which filter you’re using, the app automatically calculates the new exposure time.

Download for iOS

ND Filter Calc (DSLR) (Android users)

ND Filter Calc is the app I recommend for Android users. 

With this app you can calculate shutter speeds based on the ND filter you mount in front of your lenses. Simply specify the filters you want to use and the exposure time of the camera and ND filter and the app automatically calculates the new exposure time.

Download for Android

Conclusioni

It’s undeniable that technology has drastically eased the life of us landscape photographers. In the past, to study a location, we would look at photos in magazines and ask locals for advice. Nowadays, we can visit a place while sitting in front of our computer or through a smartphone.

These applications are not only essential for achieving the desired landscape photograph, but some of them are also crucial for your safety when you’re out there in the wild, where nature reigns.

The author

Giulio Cobianchi

Hello, I am Giulio Cobianchi, a full-time landscape photographer and co-founder of Gotophototour. Passionate about travel and photography, especially nightscapes photography, I enjoy combining these two elements by exploring and capturing landscapes where wild nature shines at its best. Through Gotophototour, I can pursue my passion, share it with others, and guide them to discover and immortalize the most fascinating places in the world.
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