Are you a landscape photographer? Then I’m going to share the best phone app you can get — PhotoPills. Gotta do it.

Find your stuff

As landscape photographers we need to find and track things such as the sun, moon and Milky Way. PhotoPills has worked wonders in allowing me to pre-visualize where these various element swill be at any time of day night or in between.


At under $10 I can’t think of a single app that would be more helpful. The app can tell you when the moon, sun or Milky Way is in position to be in place for your shot.

PhotoPills features

As a landscape photographer knowing when lighting conditions change is extremely helpful. Civil, Nautical and Astronomical twilight are just the beginning and mapped within the app. Time and date of sunrise/moonrise and set times are just the beginning.

iPhone screen with Photo Pills Night AR Toadstool image with Milky Way superimposed for a little after midnight. This image saved to the phone by pushing the Action button.

My favorite feature is Night AR. When you are on location you can turn on Night AR to visualize the moon and Milky Way. It will be overlaid on the scene.

The cool part is you can set the exact date and time and see where it will be. In addition, you can capture the photo for future. Change the date and time and you can see exactly where and when the Galactic Center of the Milky Way will appear. This allows you to set your camera up early in the evening to attain foreground elements knowing where the Milky Way will be later in the night.


I used the Night AR feature to plan this shoot of the Toadstools in Utah. I hiked out to the location in the morning, using the PhotoPills Night AR to predict what time would be best to capture the landscape with the Milky Way featured. You can program in whatever time and date you would like.

Panoramic image of the Milky Way made over the Toadstools in Southern Utah. Planned with Photo Pills APP.

Then, I left the location and chased some other daytime photo opportunities along with grabbing a nap. I returned to the site a bit before sunset, set up the camera and waited for the light to work for the foreground. I left the camera in position and worked with another camera while the Milky Way moved into position around midnight.

Planning for future shoots

A shoot I’m planning for future gives me a look for when the Galactic Center, signified by the orange dot, of the Milky Way will be directly over Bell Rock on the third of May at 2:26 a.m.

You can also do planning from the comfort of your armchair while relaxing in your living room. Navigate via the PhotoPills app to a location. Place another marker in the direction in which you would like to shoot. And PhotoPills will help you find the right time and date with which to capture your vision. I haven’t mastered this part as yet, but working on it!

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob