In last week’s article, we went through a selection of the top Android photography apps for serious smartphone photographers to capture and edit photos.
In this article, I am going to go through a selection of the best Android photography apps that I have found useful for planning my photography.
The lead photo is an Android smartphone photo that I took this past weekend with my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as part of a time lapse sequence photographed using the Camera FV-5 Android photography app and edited in Snapseed.
(If you just read that and are thinking nooooooo – why didn’t he take a real camera???? I hear ya – I’ve been wondering that myself…)
However, the point is not that you can capture cool (pun intended) photos on a smartphone, to me the much more important point is that I also did all of the critical pre-planning for that photo on my Android smartphone – from writing down concept notes and making sketches, checking the weather forecast, looking up the sunrise time and direction, calculating time lapse frame rates, to simply setting an alarm clock to make sure I got there at the right time.
The apps discussed in this post are simply a selection of Android photography planning apps that I have personally found useful. If you have a suggestion for an app you think is better or more useful – please leave a comment and share it with the community.
I absolutely love Sundroid. Sundroid is so useful and has become so indispensable to my photography workflow that I wonder how I managed to actually take any half decent outdoor photographs without it.
Sundroid essentially does three things – depending on your location, it tells you the time of sun rise, the time of sun set and the exact direction of sun rise or sun set.
If you are planning night photography, you can also use Sundroid to check the phase of the moon and the time of moon rise, moon set and the direction.
Sundroid also has a built in compass so while you are in the field, you can confirm exactly where the sun or moon will rise or set – which is extremely useful, especially for location scouting.
Stellarium Mobile is sort of similar in use to Sundroid, except it provides a more sophisticated look at the sky.
With Stellarium Mobile, you can see exactly what the sky will look like at a given date, time and location – which is especially useful if you are planning a night photography session or astrophotography.
My Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a stylus (little pen) and comes with two note apps that I use on a regular basis. I use “action memos” to quickly write down quick photography ideas or checklists – similar to how I used to use post it notes.
I use S-Note to make more detailed notes and sketches for photography shoot ideas – similar to how I used to use a paper notebook.
I believe most Android smartphones come with some sort of note / sketching app, but if you are looking for something a little more powerful for your photography concept sketches, try out Sketchbook Pro.
Sketchbook Pro is made by Autodesk (the giant software company behind AutoCAD) and can be as simple or sophisticated as you want.
Speaking of Android photography apps for sketching photography concepts, Lighting Studio is an easy way to keep track of studio lighting setups.
Light Meter Tools
Light Meter Tools is a light meter app for your Android smartphone – but don’t get too excited about using Light Meter Tools as an actual light meter – it can only measure ambient light, so its use as a light meter is pretty limited.
However, what I personally find very useful about Light Meter Tools is the manual exposure calculator that includes adjustments for neutral density filters.
Making exposure adjustments for neutral density filters is something I seem to always struggle with in the field – especially with ten stop neutral density filters that are so dark the camera can’t even focus let alone meter properly. (Although if you can calculate what shutter speed to use for an exposure ten stops darker than say ISO 100, f5.6, 1/30th in your head – then you don’t need Light Meter Tools to do it for you…30 seconds would be the correct answer.)
The other tool included with Light Meter Tools that I find very useful is the depth of field calculator.
Specify your camera, focal length, f stop and distance and the depth of field calculator will tell you the depth of field. Of course, this will vary depending on the actual lens you are using, but it is a great guide for planning photographs where a specific depth of field is critical.
Right now I am just using the default weather app that came with my Android smartphone. But after fighting overcast skies for the last week, I am still looking for a more sophisticated weather app that also has a radar weather tracker. Any suggestions?
Also, I recently heard about a skiing and snowboarding app called Powder Alarm that I thought was really cool.
If it snows overnight, Powder Alarm will wake you up early so that you can beat the rush and get first tracks. If it doesn’t snow, you can sleep in.
I would love for someone to develop a photography app called Sunrise Alarm. I don’t know how many times I have woken up way earlier than I wanted to photograph a very specific sunrise photo – only to have the sunrise completely obscured by heavy cloud.
Imagine how great an app like Sunrise Alarm would be to outsmart the hordes of other photographers if you were going to photograph one of those iconic sunrise landscapes – like Mesa Arch (where it’s probably never cloudy), or Machu Picchu (where it’s definitely cloudy).
Just an idea…
What Android Photography Planning Apps Do You Recommend
If you have an Android photography app that you find indispensable for planning your photography, please leave a comment and share it with the community!