Have you ever struggled to plan a photo shoot at the ‘magic hour’? Those hallowed times of day when everything is bathed in golden, slanted light and it becomes practically impossible to take a bad picture. While a quick google will tell you the local sunrise or sunset time, it can still mean hours of waiting around for the perfect light for your specific scene.

Ben Willmore wants to help. The photographer takes some of the guesswork out of anticipating the natural lighting for your scene, with the help of a little-known google earth feature.

Similar to Google Earth’s “photorealistic atmosphere” feature, the [View] —> “Sun” option gives you the ability to artificially recreate (or predict) a scene’s lighting. Find a scene, choose the date and time, and observe as google casts realistic shadows over your anticipated scenario based on how the sun will move across the sky at different times of year.

In this video, Willmore takes you on a tour of this Google Earth feature. Not a photographer? How do maps help your job?