Skyfire – A Review of the App
As a user of the app, I thought I would include a few notes about the app and what value it brings to the landscape photographer.
Weather is complicated, and I am often faced with making value judgments on the locations to choose for sunrises and sunsets. Some I have accurately selected, but what sticks with me are the times I got it wrong.
Living in the San Diego area, the majority of the days are sunny, which do not necessarily make for the most engaging photographs. The right type of clouds entering or leaving the area are rare. In addition, for a good portion of the year, the onshore flow produces a marine layer that are usually death for the light needed in the morning and evening. Sometimes I head to the coast for what I think will be a great image, only to find the marine is just a couple miles inland and ready to kill the light.
Skyfire is the first app to attempt the incredible challenge of using weather predictions to forecast the right type of light. The interface is simple. With a login, you are taken to the member interface. The first you will see is the prediction for the nearest sunrise or sunset. A Google Map and a static map are included. Visually, it works as a heat map. Dark blues are complete cloud cover with little light, light blues are clear skies with no clouds, and the colors warm from there until you may have light and dark reds when the landscape is really going to light up.
The first question everyone asks is: Is it accurate? My experience has been that the app has been extremely accurate. I have spoken to Matt the few times the app was off, and most of the time, it ended up being an inaccurate weather forecast. We know what they say about predicting the weather.
There have been a couple occasions recently that not only did the app give me a good indication that I should be out shooting at the right time, but gave me good insight into where in the area I should go. For an app that is attempting to forecast light in the entire United States, this is excellent.
So, would I recommend this app? If you are a landscape photographer, who wants the best images at the far margins of every day, before sunrise and after sunset, then I highly recommend this app. For $25.00 a year, you will gain insight that will help you pick the right days and the best areas to photograph. Just one image that you wouldn’t have shot without the app makes the price easily worth it.
The app is currently html-based with plans to eventually be available on iOs and Android. Visit Skyfire at www.skyfireapp.com.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.