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Recommended Apps: “Sol”

I thought I'd start a new series of blog posts showcasing my favorite smartphone/tablet apps beneficial to photographers. These apps will revolve primarily around the iOS iPhone and iPad platform but they may also be available for Android. Enjoy...

"Sol" App for iPhone and iPadApp: Sol
Price: $0.99 (buy)

For outdoor photographers, knowing the time of sunrise and sunset is vital for timing your shots. That's where "Sol" comes in.

"Sol" is a simple, clean app that shows the times of dawn, sunrise, sunset and dusk for virtually anywhere on Earth. Along with the exact times of these events, "Sol" also visually represents these times on a clock-like illustration. The hand sweeps around the clock as the day progresses with gray areas indicating daylight, light blue areas indicating dawn/dusk, and a dark blue area indicating nighttime.

"Sol" App for iPhone and iPad

It's really great having the visual representation of sunrise, sunset, and especially, the duration of dawn/dusk. This helps in quickly estimating how much time you have before the light is gone and also in gauging how quickly your daylight is fading.

The interface for adding new locations is easy and convenient. Just type in a city, then select a state or country, and click "Search". Your list of saved cities is easy to edit and scrolling from one city to the next is a simple swipe left or right. My only request here would be the ability to reorder my saved cities.

"Sol" App for iPhone and iPad

At $0.99, the price can't be beat. There are a lot of sunrise/sunset time apps out there, but the simplicity of this app and the clean interface blows the rest out of the water. When I'm out shooting, I don't need a cluttered interface to get through and I don't need any extraneous information like the azimuth or angle. "Sol" is quick, clear and convenient. I highly recommend it.

Sunflower Details

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

My car had to get some work done on it over the weekend, which left me stranded at home without a vehicle. Since I'm not big on watching TV, especially in the middle of a beautiful day, I decided to spend my newfound downtime out in the backyard enjoying the weather, drinking some tea and admiring nature's beauty on a smaller scale.

So with a relatively fresh bouquet of sunflowers on hand, I broke out my macro lens for a change of pace from the sweeping landscapes I'm used to. I brought the bouquet outside and placed them on a table in the shade. This shady light is primo for close-ups as it doesn't create too much contrast in these delicate subjects.

Using my Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro (the non-L version), I kept my aperture wide so I could get real selective with focus and create some more abstract-like compositions. I find that when shooting flowers, photographing them head-on tends to result in unoriginal pictures, so I usually try and get the most extreme angles I can on them, working to highlight intimate details like the delicate curves, repeating patterns and interesting textures.

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Photographing this close-up world can keep you busy for hours. Examining things so closely with a lens that's capable of capturing it will open up tons of compositions. All you need is a macro lens and a steady tripod.

Featured Testimonial: Online Courses

A student of my How to Shoot in Full Manual Online Course said the following in a recent email to me:

I would highly recommend your course to my friends, as you make an excellent presentation and explanation of the basics of manual photography. You are an excellent instructor.

- Frank D.

It always feels good to receive unsolicited testimonials like this. If you're interested in learning the correct way to shoot in manual mode, check out my 6-week "How to Shoot in Full Manual" online course here.