It will be no surprise for any visitor that planning is one of the success elements for any photographic session. Sometimes you’re carrying your camera in the right moment and you get a wonderful picture, but most of the times the “magic” doesn’t simply appear in front of us, but we have to make it happen. Studying the place, the weather and many other factors help to make the session a success.
Exsate Golden Hour is a free Android App that allows us to plan any exterior photographic session. It gives us information such as sunrise and sunset times, position of the moon, time range of the golden hour, blue hour, etc. With all that information we will be able to know, for example, which is the best moment to achieve a portrait session with the magic glow of the sunset light, or when will be the moon rising or setting in an astrophotography session. The app provides all of this information on a summary view for easy lookup.
In order to have a more graphic representation of all the information, the app provides a diagram where the sun and moon altitudes are depicted versus the time of the day. All calculations are made for the current location of the photographer, but it can be changed for any position we desire. This way is easy to compare what will be the position of the moon for a specific position of the sun, or to easily check when the two bodies will maintain an specific relationship (e.g. a night without moon, a sunset with a moon under 30 degrees or a sunrise with the moon on its zenith). Also, below the graph, a bar representation shows information about specific events that can happen, like the golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets with expressive skies due to the presence of clouds or clear days with no wind, suitable for drone photography. All those events can be also checked in the summary list, for more information about them.
Apart of the times, the program provides a map where the location can be set. The map overlaps an azimuthal scale around the selected point and draws overlaid the position of the sun and moon. This allows us to see a projection in the ground of the position the two bodies maintain in the sky, in case we want to plan a photograph where any of them is in a specific position. It also shows the position where the sun and moon raised and set that day, and if they are above or below the horizon on that moment. Although this function is interesting for planning pictures that require to control the position of the bodies against some static objects (for example, buildings), it lacks of some advanced controls that other applications have. For example, it is impossible to measure the relative altitude between the selected position and some other point, so it might happen that although the sun is still above the horizon as planned we cannot achieve our desired picture because it is behind a mountain or building. Also, sunset times are relative to 0 degrees altitude, but if the horizon has elevations the real sunset time will be earlier than predicted, or if we are in the elevation the sunset time will be later; the app doesn’t allow having those cases into consideration.
But the true strength of this application comes in the form of prediction. The events described previously are selected by the application by defect, but it is also possible to make our own events. For example, we want to photograph a sunset where the sun is just at the side of the bell tower of a church, and we know approximately what altitude the sun must be and also the azimuth respect to our desired camera position (this second parameter can be easily calculated in the “map” view). In this case what we can do is to create an event for the sun to be in this region, add some “spice” if desired, as requesting the weather to be clear or the moon to be in another specific position, and finally confirm the event. From that moment on the app will notify us of the next time the conditions will be met and also will overly a bar in the diagram, so we can easily see how long it will last or if it overlaps with another event, like a golden hour. One drawback of this mode is that it requires some practice to achieve good results, as there are many tunable parameters that are not always completely explained. It’s a powerful option but not as intuitive as it could be.
So, in summary, Exsate Golden Hour allows us to plan any exterior session with precision, for any geographical point and program alert so we get noticed when some desired conditions are met. In the geographical aspect it’s a little bit limited, but might get more powerful in future versions. Also, it doesn’t require an internet connection, although some functionality might not be fully usable (like map).
Ease of use: 3.5 / 5 (The higher the better)
Specificity: 3 / 5 (Higher doesn’t mean better)
Applicability: 4.5 / 5 (Higher tends to be better)
Name: Exsate Golden Hour
Producer: Exsate Multimedia Solutions
Size: 2.6 MB (apk); around 7 MB (storage); about 25 MB (cache).