Old 08-05-2010, 01:21 AM   #1
Greg P
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Default Understanding azimuth

I've been working on learning about azimuth and how it can help me better scout photo locations online and understand already known locations. I discovered one of the places I shoot, you have to be on different sides of the tracks depending on the time of year.

Let's use Brwn Mar Pa
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If I understand this concept correctly, I would first determine where north is.

Now let's assume I am photographing at 8am.

I would find the best light for photographing by facing a direction approx 100 degrees from north.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:29 AM   #2
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You are making this much too hard and too detailed. Just get to the location and see where the sun is coming from and then decide where to set up or whether to try a different location.

And when you get there, don't worry about facing exactly away from the sun. Just as long as it is coming from a direction that fits the situation, so if you are shooting a simple wedgie, both the nose and side of the train are lit.

In other words, don't bother with using a compass to figure out exactly where 100 degrees is.

Anyway, you said "facing a direction approx 100 degrees", but regardless of what the compass says, you have to face the train in most cases.

Now, it is helpful to look at these numbers to see what time of day a spot/shot "works". But just use one of those online calculators that have a map and lines showing which way the sun faces at a time of day. There was a thread on this here not too long ago, "photographers ephemeris", something like that? Maybe someone will post a link.

In a desparate bid for more views, here are some shots from Gaithersburg, MD making use of mid-summer other-side-of-the-tracks light. As one can see, I barely got enough side light in one of the shots, some would say I didn't get enough but the screener was generous that day. Sadly I was unable to get out there this year.

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Old 08-05-2010, 01:32 AM   #3
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And the suns angle would be 20 degrees? I don't understand this either.

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Old 08-05-2010, 01:35 AM   #4
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And the suns angle would be 20 degrees? I don't understand this either.
You are correct, the sun would be 20 degrees above the horizon at that hour on that day.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
You are making this much too hard and too detailed. Just get to the location and see where the sun is coming from and then decide where to set up or whether to try a different location.
I have issues with prior planning lol. I've found I'll make a list of like 4 places to try and the first three are busts. . It's kind of pointless to do this for local places but it is helpful if I am looking at a place for a weekend trip. I can tell if there are shadows on a satellite photo but not when it was taken.

Quote:
In other words, don't bother with using a compass to figure out exactly where 100 degrees is.

Anyway, you said "facing a direction approx 100 degrees", but regardless of what the compass says, you have to face the train in most cases.
True that. I wouldn't be that detailed in real life of course, I just wanted to make sure I was reading the chart right. I would just be interesting in seeing which direction will be working at what time.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:51 AM   #6
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PS. You should see my kit for train photography.

Laptop, 3g/4g connection card, 320gb hard drive with tv shows, sealed car battery for recharging laptop, battery powered fans, scanner with discriminator for ATCS monitoring, laminated time tables, video equipped car stereo with RCA input for tv tuner.

I like to bring technology to the hobby.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg P View Post
I've been working on learning about azimuth and how it can help me better scout photo locations online and understand already known locations. I discovered one of the places I shoot, you have to be on different sides of the tracks depending on the time of year.

Let's use Brwn Mar Pa
Attachment 5685


If I understand this concept correctly, I would first determine where north is.

Now let's assume I am photographing at 8am.

I would find the best light for photographing by facing a direction approx 100 degrees from north.
Why don't you just use The Photographer's Ephemeris? Just look at the line that represents the angle of the sun in relation to the track at the location you want to shoot and it's pretty easy to figure out what the lighting will be like.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:53 AM   #8
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The Photographer's Ephemeris
Incredible program. Many thanks
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:56 PM   #9
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I just wanted to make sure I was reading the chart right. I would just be interesting in seeing which direction will be working at what time.
I don't find that graph particularly useful. Here's similar source data:

Code:
BRYN MAWR, PENNSYLVANIA
W 75 19, N40 02
Altitude and Azimuth of the Sun                                               
Aug 5, 2010                                                                   
Eastern Standard Time
                                                        
          Altitude    Azimuth                                                 
                      (E of N)
                                               
 h  m         o           o                                                   
05:00       -1.4        66.3
05:15        1.6        68.8
05:30        4.1        71.1
05:45        6.8        73.5
06:00        9.5        75.8
06:15       12.3        78.1
06:30       15.1        80.3
06:45       17.9        82.6
07:00       20.8        84.9
07:15       23.6        87.3
07:30       26.5        89.6
07:45       29.4        92.1
08:00       32.2        94.6
Take a map and plot the azimuth as if you were using a protractor - that will give you the sun line. As for 'best angle,' would facing away from the sun have improved these shots?

Image © Matt Smith
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Photograph © Matt Smith


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PhotoID: 300263
Photograph © Appalachian Railfan


Knowing where the sun is is a useful piece of information. But don't forget to pack your imagination and creativity along with all your technology.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:42 PM   #10
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Image © Appalachian Railfan
PhotoID: 300263
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Knowing where the sun is is a useful piece of information. But don't forget to pack your imagination and creativity along with all your technology.
The train looks like it's going to tip over.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:55 PM   #11
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The train looks like it's going to tip over.
Probably because Brian stores his camera on its side while in the bag.

I would never do that.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:54 PM   #12
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Knowing where the sun is is a useful piece of information. But don't forget to pack your imagination and creativity along with all your technology.
Whatever you do, don't put them in your checked baggage. Southwest lost mine late last year and my pictures have been dogs ever since.
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:51 PM   #13
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I try to always pack my creativity, but there's nothing more frustrating than getting to a site and finding that your on the wrong side of the tracks and there isn't a way to get to the right side of the tracks.
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:41 PM   #14
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I try to always pack my creativity, but there's nothing more frustrating than getting to a site and finding that your on the wrong side of the tracks and there isn't a way to get to the right side of the tracks.
That's when you take the shot, and photochop it into a winner.

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Old 10-12-2010, 06:48 AM   #15
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So I am in love with TPE.

I was ecstatic when I read TPE will be on the Android Marketplace by years end.

Question.

As the days become shorter, more and more of the good light is occurring around mid-day.

I know that in the fall and winter high sun isn't really an issue, but I also noticed TPE provides a shadow length.

Does anyone have any opinions on what a good minimum for shadow length is?

Or am I over thinking again...
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Old 10-12-2010, 11:50 AM   #16
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It depends on your height above the subject of the shot, but a good guide is a sun angle of 45 degrees or less (in TPE I think that equates to a shadow index of 1.0), so shadows are at least as long as the object casting them is tall.


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Old 10-12-2010, 12:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wizzo View Post
It depends on your height above the subject of the shot, but a good guide is a sun angle of 45 degrees or less (in TPE I think that equates to a shadow index of 1.0), so shadows are at least as long as the object casting them is tall.


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Yep High sun is about gone here till next year.
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:38 PM   #18
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:25 PM   #19
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Bookmarked. Already looks like I'll love it.
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