The Photographer's Ephemeris 3D

for iOS

Sunlight. Moonlight. Starlight.

The Photographer's Ephemeris 3D is a unique natural light visualization tool for outdoor and landscape photographers working in mountainous terrain.

Mountains provide some of Earth's most spectacular scenery with dynamic and changable light. With Photo Ephemeris 3D, you can watch a sunrise from the future in a rich simulation of sunlight, moonlight and starlight set against the actual topography of your planned shooting location.

Need to see when the arch of the Milky Way will rise between two mountain peaks? Or to see what time of day a valley will lose direct light in September?

Watch the light unfold under clear skies hours, days, weeks or years before you’re actually there.

Night photography screenshot, iOS app
Photo Ephemeris 3D ScreenshotPhoto Ephemeris 3D ScreenshotPhoto Ephemeris 3D ScreenshotPhoto Ephemeris 3D ScreenshotPhoto Ephemeris 3D Screenshot

Who is it for?

Photo Ephemeris 3D was built for landscape photographers. If you don't already have our original app, Photo Ephemeris for iOS, we generally recommend Photo Ephemeris 3D as an add-on, rather than making it your first purchase. Read more.

As landscape shooters, it's often mountainous terrain that exerts the strongest grip on our imaginations. Varied terrain interacts with natural light in striking ways which are often hard to predict.

Photo Ephemeris 3D lets you visualize this interaction in advance, allowing you to explore new shot, location and timings. Time and opportunity is limited. Knowing that your shot plan gives you the light you want on your subject in advance is invaluable.

Key Benefits

TPE 3D offers a unique combination of benefits for photographers:

  • Sun, moon and stars are shown against a 3D model of the actual landscape: you can see if the moon is next to a specific mountain peak
  • Controls for date, time of day and camera position are designed with photographers in mind: it’s easy to check the light for just the time you need
  • Seeing the light against a topographic map makes it easy to interpret: satellite map images often have shadows ‘baked in’
  • In enhanced mode, you can control the focal length of the camera, making TPE 3D useful as a guide to composition and lens selection

At its best in the Mountains

Photo Ephemeris 3D is at its best in the mountains.

Using digital elevation models covering all but extreme latitudes, the app presents a 3D map of the landscape lit with simulated sunlight, moonlight and starlight. The 3D model works best for large scale features such as mountain ranges, rugged hills, or large canyons.

The app is not recommended for photographers shooting primarily in cities or flat terrain: buildings are not shown in 3D and you won't get any benefit from the 3D in flat or mostly-flat terrain.

Key Features

  • 3D topographic maps with simple navigation options
  • Sun, moon and galactic centre continuous timeline showing key rise, set and transit events
  • Full search capability to find your location (or enter decimal or DMS coordinates directly)
  • Automated playback to watch a realtime or faster-than-realtime simulation of the light
  • Flying mode for quick movement around a scene
  • Enhanced mode for maximum topography and shadow detail
  • Direct elevation control for the 3D model camera
  • Camera pitch and bearing indicators
  • Moon phases are rendered accurately in the 3D scene
  • Zoom in/out to equivalent 35mm focal length in enhanced mode
  • Daily and annual events lists
  • Shared location database with TPE
  • Navigation and Artificial Highlights lighting modes
  • Support for multiple map pins
  • User settings for controlling scene complexity


  • This app is CPU and graphics intensive: modern device models provide the best user experience
  • Requires an internet connection
  • Does not currently provide simulation of lighting during solar and lunar eclipses
  • Satellite maps are not included
  • Topographic data is available only between 83°N and 83°S: data may contain artifacts and errors
  • Availability of map types is subject to change, due to 3rd party map service availability, terms or conditions