I’ve bought/downloaded a bucket load of weather apps for the iPad, many are absolutely useless. The information about the weather is hit and miss, the amount of detail is limited and really not enough to get a feeling of what is going to be happening on the day I’m out shooting.
I eventually settled on a few applications for my weather planning, but all of them have something very specific in common, radar and satellite imagery. This is the best way of identifying what the weather is going to do on the given day. The forecast of what is going to happen can be so variable between the various apps on the iPad, the time slices between each segment of weather can be between 2-3 hours and that in itself can be a whole load of great shots or a complete washout. As long as the app presents good/up to date radar and satellite information you can make your own estimations of what the weather is actually going to be like.
For my money, the app that I return to time and time again is WeatherPro HD. The levels of detail and interface are perfect for a photographer, the forecasts are some of the most accurate for the UK, more often than not better than the Met Office app. The user interface is quick and easy to use, rotating the iPad into a portrait position gives a greater amount of detail about the weather for the day. There are plans to update the app to a new even cooler interface, but I’m yet to see that happen…
The second app on my list, although it would I guess be number 1 if I lived in the US, primarily because of the amount of information, would be the Intellicast.com app. When you look at the level of detail, the overlays on the map, it’s fantastic. Even though it has a map of the world, the amount of detail for the rest of the world is very limited in comparison and that is the real shame.
The app is ad supported which means that some valuable screen is taken up by things you’ll never click on and the UI is more difficult to navigate than WeatherPro HD, but it is still a great app.
As part of my planning for a trip, I’ll normally add the location I am heading to on the map. Switch to satellite view on WeatherPro and look let the last few hours of cloud data load. Once this is loaded it lets you use the slider on the screen to roll the clouds backwards and forwards to see how the wind is moving the mass of cloud. You may be thinking what cloud, come live in the UK and you will know that this is something that you need to plan for… the pleasures of living on a small island… 🙂
As I roll the clouds backwards and forwards I get a feeling of how the cloud is going to impact my proposed location. Whether the clouds are moving to or from the direction of the sun upon my arrival at location. Will I be in a pile of cloud, will the cloud be moving towards the sun to create a dramatic sky and shadows, potentially creating rays through broken cloud. It all comes together when you’re able to visualise what is happening above you.
Also, if you’re on location, you can take a look at the app and get an idea of the direction of the current weather conditions to make the call on “stick to your spot and wait it out” or time to up sticks and make the move. As ever, weather is not an exact science, but with this kind of app you can make an informed decision and improve your chance of finding a great shooting location with a higher probability of getting the weather you want for your shoot.
In my next entry I’ll talk about TPE, and combining it with the Weather app data.