Learning How to Intelligently Predict Beautiful Times to Take Pictures in the Outdoors!

by | Feb 16, 2018 | Recommendations | 5 comments

What if you could predict beforehand if it was going to be a beautiful sunrise tomorrow morning? Or a beautiful sunset tonight? Or the next night? What if you could intelligently calculate ahead of time if a particular snowfall was going to be particularly picturesque? Or not picturesque at all?

Would not this completely change our approach to outdoor photography?

Instead of dropping everything last minute to rush outside when we randomly notice the sky is going aflame with color….

Instead of bashing ourselves for not having the camera handy when epic moments present themselves during normal, every-day routines….

Instead of wishing the few moments we found to snap pictures amidst our busy week had been spent snapping something more interesting than slate-gray skies….

Of course, we will never be able to predict exactly how things will turn out, and it’s never wise to expect anything from things outside of our control (especially the weather!), but still, I hope these little insights I’ve been learning about recently will help you be able to plan ahead a little more intelligently and maximize your time behind the camera amidst the busyness and responsibilities of life.



Behind the Scenes Insights

  • The day I made this video, I was “predicting” it would be much more sunny than it actually was. In fact, after filming the video, I probably waited a good 30 minutes for the sun to come back out to paint the landscape with beautiful warm light for a really nice composition that I had set up, fully expecting it would. But it never did. Even with the most “intelligent” predictions, it’s not worth getting your hopes up too high. 🙂
  • The only thing you can hope to accomplish with making predictions like this is to increase your chances of being able to maximize the time you spend behind the camera.
  • I have just started using this app! I’ll be sure to post more about it and how accurate I find it to be in the future. So far, I’ve had a fairly high success rate in guessing what the sky will look like throughout the day.
  • I started researching how to predict upcoming weather earlier this year when someone asked me to come take “beautiful winter pictures” of their house for a listing on Airbnb. Many of the new things I learn originate from working on real-world projects.
  • I first heard about the Meteoblue app from this excellent article by Exploring Exposure, Predicting Weather for Landscape Photography. I wish I was as good as he is!
  • This video was not sponsored by Meteoblue. 🙂
  • Meteoblue is available for both Mac and Android devices.
  • When I slipped, it was totally legit! I can’t believe it happened to be right at the exact time I was talking about how freezing cold it was. 🙂
  • Next few times it snows, pay close attention to whether or not the snow is actually clinging to branches and twigs and stuff. I’m surprised how infrequent that happens where I’m from! It’s really a special treat when it does, and it makes for much more interesting snow pictures.
  • When I said “the barn was not a very beautiful location”, I meant to say that it wasn’t as good of a location for sunrise as I was initially expecting.

If you happen to find yourself using this method to shoot a beautiful scene, and it turns out to be not so good as expected, then, well, you can still take pictures to submit for this week’s Dreary Beauty STS assignment. 🙂

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  1. Nathanael & Samantha Frazer

    Thank you James, that was very helpful for me! Scheduling time is difficult for me too, and this app should be a big help to me.

  2. Caitlin Compton

    Thanks for sharing about Meteoblue! Those 3 examples at the start of the post made me laugh – they’re so realistic. 😀

    • James Staddon

      Ahh, such is my life, and I’m sure not mine only. 🙂


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