Smartphone photography is a genre all of its own these days. However, even if you still use a proper camera to shoot photos, your smartphone could still prove to be useful.
There are apps for everything these days, and we have rounded up the essential apps for photographers on Android and iOS. All of which could help you up your photography game.
1. Light Pollution Map
For photographers who spend the majority of their time capturing shots of dark skies, an app called Light Pollution Map should prove useful. The app lets you locate the best observatory spots where the sky is clear and untainted by light pollution.
Before going out to take photos of the night sky you can quickly pull up Light Pollution Map and know where you need to head to take the most epic shots.
The app also allows you to add an Aurora Layer if you’d like to shoot the Northern Lights. You can even access a bunch of aurora borealis webcams from around the world.
In addition, Light Pollution Map has a series of other handy tools for night photographers. It comes with the ability to track the International Space Station and you can read up on the astronauts who are onboard.
Most of Light Pollution Map’s advanced features aren’t free, but you can easily make use of those that are.
The developer behind Light Pollution Map has a bunch of other apps for specific purposes like capturing portraits. You can browse them by heading over to the Photographer’s Arsenal website.
Another app every photographer needs to have in their digital arsenal is PhotoPills.
With PhotoPills, you can effortlessly align your pictures with the sun, moon, or the milky way. The app enables you to survey their trails so that you can be at the right location at the right time.
Plus, PhotoPills features both a 2D map planner and an Augmented Reality mode through which you can superimpose, for instance, the sun’s route in the real world and set up your frame beforehand accordingly.
On top of that, you can pinpoint a specific location on PhotoPills and it will tell you when the lighting there will be ideal.
3. The Photographer’s Ephemeris
This app is for planning outdoor photographs. But The Photographer’s Ephemeris takes things a step further with a more comprehensive interface and reams of information.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris renders your surroundings in 3D and helps you understand how light will fall or reflect from a particular place. It offers options for both sun and moon photography.
What’s more, the app can automatically detect your whereabouts and elevation. It also shows you the light pollution overlay and moon phases. The Photographer’s Ephemeris has a bit of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it, it can supercharge your photography by a significant magnitude.
So for instance, if you want to take a picture of a popular hill, you can figure out when the sun or moon will be at its shoulder for that iconic shot.
Similar to Light Pollution Map, the developers behind this app offer a handful of other photography apps you should check out on The Photographer’s Ephemeris website.
4. Golden Hour One / PhotoTime
If you find apps such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris a little too overwhelming, take a look at Golden Hour One on iOS and PhotoTime on Android.
Both of these apps are designed to assist you in quickly finding the best place and time for your outdoor photography sessions. Right on the homepage, you have a simple interface which displays the golden hour periods for your location.
Moreover, Golden Hour One also offers weather forecasts from a photographer’s perspective. That means you can understand the conditions through descriptions like “Chances for an interesting photo” when the cloud cover is just about right.
Download: PhotoTime for Android (Free)
Download: Golden Hour One for iOS ($3.99)
5. FotoTool / PhotoBuddy
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been shooting for years, sometimes you’ll need a hand taking on the complex scenes. Fortunately, there are now apps through which you can instantly evaluate the various camera parameters given a specific scene.
Android users should try FotoTool, and iOS users should try PhotoBuddy. Both apps can calculate a wide array of fields in several scenarios.
For instance, to produce a perfect depth-of-field effect, you can input the kind of camera you have, the lens, and the object distance, and these apps will generate the required settings. Apart from that, they come with calculators for star trails, long exposures, and timelapses.
If you’re looking to brush up on your fundamentals, here are the key photography tips for beginners.
Download: FotoTool for Android (Free, premium version available)
Download: PhotoBuddy for iOS ($1.99)
Download: LExp for iOS ($3.99)
6. Canon Camera Connect / Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility
Lastly on our list are camera manufacturers’ official apps. These free utilities will fit perfectly into your workflow with a wide set of nifty abilities. You can remotely control your camera with them and import media to your phone wirelessly.
Of course, not every camera is compatible with them. You should first check whether yours is. Nearly all manufacturers offer a companion app for your smartphone such as Canon’s Camera Connect and Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility.
You can also exclusively operate the viewfinder on these apps if you find the ones on your camera’s screen cumbersome.
You Have the Apps, Now Get the Accessories!
These apps for photographers should be brilliant additions to your photography tools. Some of them, such as Golden Hour One, even solve a bunch of common annoyances professionals face on every photography assignment.
Now that you’ve upgraded your digital arsenal, you should consider doing the same to your physical arsenal as well. For that, here are the essential accessories for photographers.