Whether you’re thinking of travelling somewhere new or even shooting locally, online tools are a great help when planning photography trips and outings. Landscapes, seascapes, travel, nature, architecture or real estate – whatever photography you’re into you’re sure to have your own favourite online photography tools. Here are 5 of the best online photography tools you need to know about if you don’t already. I’ve deliberately selected five that I regularly use that are not as obvious as Google Maps, Google Earth, Instagram, Flickr and some of the better known tools. These particular platforms can also be used in a web browser, either on a desktop or a laptop. Many photographers (myself included) enjoy being able to plan on a work optimised device.
So here we go – these are my picks for 5 of the best online photography tools you need to know about!
1) The Photo Ephemeris (TPE)
Most landscape, travel and architecture photographers I know have at least one natural light planning tool on their mobile phone. When it comes to one that also has a web application option, TPE is my go-to choice. The features are almost the same as the mobile version but it’s much easier to save locations for future reference. I also find it quicker to find the spot I’m interested in and plan. There is a free plan, but to use Google Maps you need to be a Premium subscriber.
2) Dr Ulrich Deuschle’s Panorama Tool
One of the coolest tools I’ve come across is this Panorama creator. It seems to be some kind of academic experiment with a somewhat clunky interface, but it works perfectly and I find it super useful. Firstly I use it to see what views I can expect from certain viewpoint. And secondly, when back home editing images, I can check the panorama for the names of the mountain peaks. It’s free for personal use but donations are invited. For a mobile alternative, check out PeakFinder app.
3) Ventusky Weather Map
Ventusky is a great tool to check various weather parameters that affect photography. You can use the web map to check temperature, humidity, wind, clouds and more for free. What I especially like is the forecast showing how the clouds will move – you can even separate layers into low, middle and high clouds. This is useful if you’re chasing mist or a planning a sunrise or sunset shot. Ventusky also has a mobile app with a modest yearly subscription.
4) Stellarium Web
Stellarium is a great web tool for planning night photography. I’m a very simple user of this – I’m mostly interested in the position of the Milky Way. However you can also use it to plan the location of the moon, star constellations, planets and other astro phenomena. I found this very useful when Comet Neowise was recently visible. Stellarium also has top notch mobile apps, both free and paid.
PhotoHound is a community based platform for travel photographers to help you find and get to the world’s best photo spots. The spots are verified before they are published so the information is accurate and helpful, particularly if you’re at a location for the first time. You can check the world map for spots in the area you’re interested in or look through one of the curated location guides and start planning. I have to be transparent here and say that this last one is my own creation so it had to make my top 5! However in all honesty, I wouldn’t be without PhotoHound these days and I’m grateful to the community of photographers that have joined us in our quest to share the world’s best spots in a responsible way – that is putting nature before getting the shot.
Online Photography Tools – Conclusion
So there you have it – 5 of my favourite online photography tools that help me plan my photoshoots. These used in combination with mobile apps, cover all my planning needs. They allow me to plan for weather, sky events, find locations and know the best times. I hope you’ll find these useful too. Find more of my photography articles here.
What are your favourite tools? Let me know in the comments below – maybe I’m missing out on some other very cool applications! Happy shooting!