New App ‘Skylight Forecast’ Predicts Great Sunsets and Golden Hour Light
Lux Camera, has announced a new app, Skylight Forecast, designed to predict evening light, helping photographers capture better sunset shots more consistently.
Skylight utilizes dozens of atmospheric conditions and some “intelligent prediction technology” to create a daily forecast of golden hour, sunset, and afterglow, telling photographers if they can expect a fantastic sunset or something much less exciting.
“Designed to delight and to inform in equal parts, Skylight is peppered with dynamic colors and backgrounds depending on the quality of the Sun event. Even the icons are adaptive to the circumstances, changing based on the prediction,” explains Lux.
Skylight is a notable departure from Lux’s prior apps, such as its camera apps like Halide. “Given our previous apps are cameras, it may come as a surprise we’ve gone from photography to meteorology. And we’re just as surprised!” Lux exclaims.
The story of Skylight started when Apple announced that widgets would be coming to iPhone with iOS 14.
“Whenever Apple debuts a new technology, we brainstorm ways we can integrate it into our apps. As photographers, our minds went to light,” explains Lux.
“We make apps that touch the real world. We love that people go out and capture the magic of everything around them with our cameras. But what if we could bring people outside? We could do a golden hour clock, perhaps?” Lux continues.
The team was primarily motivated by the idea that it could develop an app that lets photographers know if they should plan an evening photo outing or not.
The idea behind Skylight required Lux to perform a deep dive into meteorology, the impact of air quality on sky coloration in conjunction with different air temperatures and latitudes, how cloud altitude affects the quality of a sunset and golden hour, the relationship between water vapor and color, and much more. “As it turns out, there’s a near-infinite set of contributing factors behind the phenomenon we’ve come to appreciate and call ‘sunset,'” explains Lux.
After the team had not only gone down a rabbit hole but fully explored it, they came up with a backend design and started diving into weather data from different API providers. Over a two-year period, Lux tuned their algorithm and realized that they were onto something way more extensive than a simple widget, they had a brilliant idea for a full-fledged app.
Skylight focuses on three main events surrounding the larger idea of “sunset,” including golden gour, sunset, and afterglow.
As many photographers know, golden hour is an amazing time to take pictures because the quality of light is warm, shadows are long, and “photos feel magical.” However, not all golden hour is created equal. Some days are “more magical” than others, and Skylight hopes to remove the guesswork surrounding making good photos by explaining to photographers when a day seems poised to deliver a great golden hour.
Sunset, technically called “civil twilight,” is when the sun reaches an angle of about 18 degrees below the horizon.
“Our prediction of sunset’s appearance is based on several factors that we will go into more detail in a future blog post — but surprisingly, two really major influences are geographic latitude and the aerosols in the atmosphere. We had a huge journey in finding what makes a sunset ‘Spectacular.’ Stay tuned for a deep dive into that!” Lux promises.
There’s also afterglow, a sort of “secondary sunset” that can sometimes deliver amazing colors. Many photographers don’t pack up their tripod when the sun goes down but wait for even better color and drama in the 15 to 20 minutes following sunset itself. The great afterglow colors depend a lot on clouds.
There’s Still Widgets
While Lux determined that Afterglow is much bigger than just widgets, the app also includes widgets. The widgets use color and vibrance to provide a glanceable summary of prevailing and predicted sunset conditions. The icons change depending on the forecast. The app also supports Lock Screen widgets.
Skylight Marks a New Dawn for Lux
Built in collaboration with award-winning app designer Ryan McLeod, Skylight promises to empower photographers to capture better images around sunset.
Skylight version 1.0 is just the beginning, and Lux says it has more ideas to improve the app further. However, they need feedback to help chart the app’s journey into the future.
Price and Availability
To help get Skylight into the hands of as many photographers as possible, the app is affordable at $1.99 per month. However, a $9.99 annual rate is also available.
Lux says that a one-time purchase option is not feasible because their weather data provider and servers have ongoing costs that the company can’t fully absorb. However, the app does have a one-week free trial, allowing photographers to see if it’s the right fit for them before locking in a monthly or annual subscription.
Image credits: Lux Camera