Testing Skyfire in The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Planning for great light

SkyFire is a pretty exciting addition to The Photographer's Ephemeris. It strives to predict great sunrises and sunsets. I've only done limited testing so I can't vouch for it yet. But it's something I plan on testing further. That is when I can remember to check out what the sunrise will be like the next morning. I sometimes forget.

But so far it's shown some success, albeit the best success was second hand. A couple of weeks ago I took a look to see what the next morning's sunrise might bring. It showed a good sunrise a-comin'. Then I forgot to look the next morning. But later that morning, after sunrise, my wife mentioned how colorful the clouds had been that morning. So there!

So far, my only real test of SkyFire involvs my Lake Crescent Fantasy Shot. That's its official title. I should probably trademark it.

Those who've been with me for an Olympic National Park workshop know all about it. There's a specific location on Lake Crescent that to me seems a great location for an amazing sunrise shot. I keep hoping for red clouds or beams of light cutting through clouds over the lake. So far, this is my favorite shot from that location. I made it into a black and white, which should tell you what the colors in the sky were like that morning.

Pre-dawn on Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, WA

Pre-dawn on Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, WA

A little over a week or so ago I started checking the future sunrises with Skyfire.

SkyFire probability legend

SkyFire probability legend

Skyfire places an overlay on map in The Photographer's Ephemeris. This map will show some colors if there's a chance of good light.


One day Skyfire showed a 90% chance of a colorful sunrise for the following morning, as can see by that nice red area all over the northern Olympic peninsula. so I made my plans to head out to Lake Crescent the next morning.

90% chance of awesome!

90% chance of awesome!

Later that day I checked again and the prediction had changed, lowering my expectations, showing a little better than a 50-50 chance. The next morning it looked the same. But I like Lake Crescent so decided to go anyway.

50-50 chance of awesome. Also means a 50-50 chance of meh.

50-50 chance of awesome. Also means a 50-50 chance of meh.

I don't have any still images to show you because it just wasn't that exciting. Not enough to keep the images anyway. There was a little color in some clouds at the western end of the lake at sunrise. But the eastern end was clearing up. About a half hour after sunrise the clouds above the lake had some decent light on them and the forest clad hills rising above the lake looked nice. Nothing really special though.

But I did bring along my GoPro to try some time lapse. This represents about 18 minutes.

I'll keep checking SkyFire for sunrise and sunset potential. There are a few places to go that are closer so I'll probably choose one of them rather than the hour and a half drive to Lake Crescent.

If you want to know more about Skyfire, or try it yourself, visit the SkyFire page of The Photographer's Ephemeris site.

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