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If you're not familiar with it, The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE) is a map-centric sun/moon calculator that shows how the light falls on the land. It is used by tens of thousands of photographers around the world to plan their outdoor shoots.
Some big news: TPE for Desktop is changing. On 2 September 2014 Google will retire the Google Maps for Flash API and the current version of TPE for Desktop will stop working. The good news is that a new TPE for Desktop web app has been built from the ground up and is ready to use today.
Introducing the new TPE for Desktop web app
In light of all that, here are the five things you need to know about the new TPE:
1. It's Still Free!
The TPE web app contains the same features you've come to love in the old app, and it's still free of charge.
The new user interface shows all of the day's celestial events for sun, moon and twilight in a convenient timeline. The chart and time slider have been integrated into a single page layout. It's now easier to see all the information you need while setting up a location.
2. It's Browser-based
The new TPE web app runs in all mainstream web browsers. It's been tested in the current versions of Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 11 and Opera. (It won't work in older versions, so be sure to “browse happy“.)
As with the old TPE, it is designed for use on desktop computers or laptops equipped with a mouse or track pad.
A great advantage of the new web app is that there is no longer a requirement to install additional software; you just open the app in your browser. From now on you will never have to update the app: you get the latest version each time you visit the site.
3. Look After Your Locations
We're betting many TPE users have quite a few saved locations. You can easily transfer your locations from the old desktop app to the new web app.
After 2 September this becomes trickier for users with v1.1.1 of the old desktop application, so it's probably a good idea to transfer your locations now. Even after the old desktop version goes offline, you will still be able to transfer. We've written a brief tutorial detailing how to do this.
Going forward, it will become more important to back up your locations. The new web app saves them in your browser's local storage. In some browsers, deleting cookies may also delete your saved locations. It's a good idea to get into the habit of exporting them to a KML file and retaining a backup copy.
Look after your saved locations the way you look after your photos!
4. It Has New Stuff!
The TPE web app includes some nice new features:
Google Street View™ is available directly from within TPE. You use it exactly the same way as in Google Maps™. This is a great addition, particularly when planning city photography, as it has photographic views for many streets around the world.
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Print it out and keep it for when you really need it - when you're out shooting!
Street View is available directly from within the app
The new sun and moon +6.0° shadow circle has a number of uses. Most notably, it's a simple visual device that shows when the sun is below +6.0° above the horizon. This is typically a time for the best photographic light. (Press and hold the shift key to display the circle.)
When the shadow falls outside the circle, you can expect good light
And finally, TPE is now directly linked to ShotHotspot.com where you can continue your photo shoot location research.
5. It's Time to Share the L…
The word you're looking for is “Link”!
It's now the work of moments to share your shot plan with others. Set your pin positions, choose the date and time, and then share the browser link. Here are a few from around the world to get you started:
- September's supermoon in Sydney: ephemer.is/sydney-supermoon
- You have TPE, but here's how the ancients did it: ephemer.is/stonehenge-2015
- And a modern take – “Manhattanhenge” next year: ephemer.is/manhattanhenge-2015
Help is at Hand
We know this will be a big change for some users, but help is at hand. There is now a support tab built into the web app, so send us your feedback and questions.
There are also tutorials for the new web app available on the TPE web site (link below).
A handy Quick Start Guide can be downloaded directly from the web app itself. It outlines the major functionality along with a list of useful keyboard shortcuts (secret knowledge for aspiring power users!).