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The Best Apps for Travel Photography

My Most-Used Apps for Travel Photography Planning

No matter what camera you’re using on your travels, having the right apps at your fingertips helps make it easier. There may not be a specific category for travel photography apps, but there definitely should be!

For nearly every trip I take, I use the apps on this list at least once to plan for my travel photos. Some of the best apps for travel photography weren’t originally photography apps at all, but they definitely deserve a place on any list of apps for travel photography.

real alcazar de segovia at sunrise

Using several of these apps in my Spain photography planning allowed me to plan this shot rather than leave it to chance.

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Best Apps for Planning Travel Photography

Sure you can just show up and go with the flow, but if you’re hoping to get a specific shot the right app will help you avoid wasted time or ending up frustrated. Being in the right place at the right time is half the battle, and these apps will give you the advantage.

apps for planning travel photography make getting the shot much easier

What information would you need in order to successfully plan for a travel photo like this one?

Sun Seeker – Photography Planning App

One of my most used apps for travel photography, this free sunrise sunset app is essential in my travel photography planning. It’s also incredibly simple to use. Enter your travel destination and the date you’ll be there to view key information like sunrise, sunset, moon phases, blue hour, golden hour, and twilight times.

Since lighting is perhaps the most important element of photography, being able to preview how it falls across a specific location at an exact time is invaluable. My favorite feature of this app is the 3D view. This shows an overlay of the sun’s path as you look at the scene in front of you. It shows how much time I have before the sun dips behind a ridge or building and what direction the light will come from at a given time.

screenshot of sun seeker app 3d view used as a photography app and tool

The 3D live view of the Sun Seeker app is surprisingly accurate. Viewing the path of the sun while on location means being able to plan my travel photography more effectively – leaving time for other travel adventures as well.

There is also a map view option, making it a snap to plan ahead. Whether I’m photographing in a city or out in nature, this is invaluable planning information for my travel photography. It also saves time and aggravation – knowing ahead of time that the sun won’t line up with a desired feature means I can be flexible and come up with new ideas.

The Sun Seeker app is available for iOS and Android.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris – Photography App with Advanced Options

While I often use (and overall prefer) the desktop version of The Photographer’s Ephemeris (aka TPE), I also have their suite of photography planning apps on my phone. The TPE for Desktop and the TPE App are the simplest to use: enter your destination and the date you’ll be there to view sunrise and sunset times (plus blue hour, golden hour, and twilight times), or use the augmented reality tab if you’re on-location.

It is also very customizable for more advanced users: there are ways to adjust shadows for a given object height or elevation at horizon. Truthfully I have not used these, though I do plan to dedicate time to learning the more advanced features.

Tutorials for the Photo Ephemeris photography planning apps are available on their website, and are worth taking the time to go through if you find yourself needing the most detail and information possible. If you are not an advanced user, the free desktop version or just the TPE app for iPhone will be more than enough.

In addition to the TPE desktop and iPhone apps, Photo Ephemeris offers two additional apps with advanced features. Photo Ephemeris 3D was built for landscape photographers and is worth the investment if you’re very serious about landscape photography. It is incredibly detailed and advanced, and thus has a learning curve.

screenshot of photo ephemeris from iOS app sales page for tpe 3d photography app
Examples from Photo Ephemeris iOS app description page for the TPE 3D photography app
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Photo Transit offers digital shot planning for outdoor photographers. Using this, you can select your camera and lens in relation to the subject (point on a map, a building, etc) and make sure you’ve selected the best lens for the shot. It can even integrate with Google Street View when available! Just like TPE 3D, Photo Transit has a learning curve too.

screenshots from the photo ephemeris iOS app called Photo Transit for outdoor photographers
Screenshots showing what is possible with the iOS app Photo Transit, from Photo Ephemeris

The paid Photo Ephemeris apps are available (iOS only at this time) for $8.99 – $11.99, though occasionally the bundle of apps will go on sale. This is when I bought them, for about $20 if I recall correctly.

LensPick – Photography App

If you’re still learning photography, LensPick is helpful in several ways. What is does it let you see the effective field of view of a particular focal length. You can also choose aspect ratio (3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and so on) and cropped or full frame sensor size. This is particularly important, since a 35mm lens on a full frame sensor will have a wider field of view than a 35mm lens on a crop sensor.

screenshot from LensPick app showing the difference in field of view between full frame and cropped camera sensors
The top image shows the field of view of a 35mm lens on a full frame sensor. The lower image shows the field of view of a 35mm lens on a cropped sensor. The camera distance from the subject has not changed between images.

One of the challenges of travel photography is confidently deciding which lens to bring – on a photography outing or on the trip altogether. While bringing every lens I own is tempting, that means I have to drag it around (and worry about loss or damage) the whole time. For this reason, I count LensPick as yet another of the unexpected apps for travel photography.

LensPick is also useful as a learning tool – eventually you’ll be able to look at a particular scene and know which focal length is ideal for the shot you envision. Until then, using this app will help when choosing which lenses to pack in your camera bag.

Currently the LensPick app is available for iOS for $1.99

Astrospheric – Weather App as a Photography Planning App

Currently this app only works for destinations around North America. It’s not the most intuitive but I still found it incredibly useful during my 2 month solo road trip across the American West. While most basic weather apps are helpful in a broad sense, they don’t show the quality of a clear sky, what type of cloud cover there will be, and how much.

This weather-turned-photography planning app will be especially useful to landscape or outdoor photographers, but also for general travel photography. Knowing the height, type, and density of cloud cover in advance makes planning so much easier. Of course cloud conditions can change quickly, so it’s best to continue checking the app frequently as your planned excursion draws closer.

Astrospheric can be used on desktop or via the app for iOS or Android.

LPM – App for Night Photography and Dark Sky Photography

screenshot of light pollution app showing levels on a map

Light pollution is a growing problem for night photography endeavors. Light pollution makes night and dark sky photography extremely challenging, rendering stars less visible and creating odd glows on horizons.

While the latter can be used to creative effect, if you want to create landscape photos with as little light pollution as possible you’ll need to choose your location carefully. Billed as a weather app, LPM works as a travel photography app.

Generally the more densely populated an area is, the more difficult it will be to avoid light pollution. Using a night sky app like LPM will help suss out the spots with the lowest amount of light pollution.

Combined with a cloud forecasting app like Astrospheric (many advanced weather apps will include a cloud cover layer), you’ll have powerful tools to plan your night photography adventures.

LPM has a desktop option and is available as an app for iOS and Android.

ND Timer – Photography App

long exposure photo of a waterfall cloudland canyon under an overcast sky renders the water silky smooth
Using an ND filter was the only way to create this 2 minute exposure of a waterfall

While not specifically for travel photography, this simple photography app is helpful when planning your travel photography. Choosing the right ND filter for a situation can be tricky. If you want to take a 120 second exposure in bright sun, you’ll need an extremely dark ND filter to achieve this.

For traveling photographers with very specific shots in mind, utilizing the right photography apps will help with choosing the right travel photography accessories for an upcoming trip. It wouldn’t be wild to think that a 10 stop ND filter would make a 120 second exposure possible in bright sun.

With the ND Timer app, you can see that a 10 stop filter only turns a 1/500 second exposure into a 2 second exposure – nowhere close to the desired 120 seconds! Using the app, you can decide to either stack two ND filters together or invest in a $200+ 16 stop ND filter. In this regard, it’s also helpful when making decisions about what photography equipment to buy.

While this photography app works as an actual timer once you select the parameters, it’s most useful as photography planning tool. Keep in mind that exposures over 60 seconds are often only possible with more advanced photography equipment.

The ND Timer App is $0.99 for iOS and there are several similar apps for Android.

DoFC – Photography App for Depth of Field and Exposure

DoFC is a simple yet powerful photography app. Choose your camera, focal length, and focus distance to see detailed depth of field information. The interface is simple and straightforward, letting you visualize the depth of field for your chosen settings of camera, lens, aperture, and focus distance.

screenshots from depth of field calculator app
You can toggle the extra details, depending on how much information you want. You can see how the depth of field changes as the focus distance shifts, with the focal length and aperture remaining the same.

This app shows the total depth of field, how much is in front of and behind the focus point (extremely useful when shooting with wide apertures or portrait subjects), as well as the hyperfocal distance. Knowing the hyperfocal distance will be most useful for intermediate to advanced landscape and nature photographers.

Learning to understand aperture and which elements in your photo are impacted is a critical part of learning more advanced photography techniques. This tool will also be helpful when deciding what lens to use or even buy.

Another killer feature of this app is the the Exposure tab. Enter your f/stop and ISO to see the recommended shutter speed for specific lighting situations. The lighting condition options are extremely specific – daylight hazy sunlight from the side, twilight street scenes with low light, and night aurora borealis medium for example. It makes shot planning and execution a breeze, and would be supremely helpful when shooting film on a camera without an exposure meter

DOFC app screenshots showing the Exposure feature
Select the Exposure tab, then view the recommended exposure for your f/stop and ISO for tons of lighting situations

The DoFC photography app from $0.99 and currently available for iOS. The HyperFocal Pro app is available for Android and highly rated.

How to Choose: Which Photography Planning App is Best?

The type of travel photography you prefer, your current skill level, and particular goals will dictate which apps are the most useful for you. You don’t need to use every single one of these apps for your travel photography planning. Travel photography apps are another tool for your travel photography kit, just like a lens filter or compact tripod.

If you are primarily a landscape photographer, outdoor photographer, or night photographer the TPE apps, ND Timer, and Astrospheric, LPM, or SkyLive will be your most used apps.

For general travel photography, the best apps for intermediate or advanced photographers will be Sun Seeker, TPE for Desktop or iOS, and likely Astrospheric and ND Timer. For beginner photographers, adding LensPick and Depth of Field Calc will round out the photography apps for travel quite nicely.

A bonus travel photography planning app: Google Maps, especially Street View. A lot people forget that Google Maps is a travel app – one of the most feature rich out there.

The number of times I’ve used this to get the general lay of the land, preview a location, find places to pull safely off the road, and more is endless. Just remember that the images of street view may not be current.

Using TikTok and Instagram to plan travel (or even Pinterest) is generally NOT a good idea. However, sometimes recent posts will give a heads up to changes like scaffolding, road work, or other disruptions.

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