The Weather Channel app for iPhones offers much more than a weather report. If you know what it includes, it can become your secret source of information for planning your outdoor photo shoot. Here are some tips for using it for more than just a weather forecast in no time.
Tip #1: Be sure to turn on notifications.
Let’s get the basics out of the way by starting with the weather. With this app installed on your iPhone (or another mobile device), you’ll receive updates on time-sensitive changes to the weather, like rain, lightning strikes near you, and flash flood warnings, not to mention tornado watches and warnings.
Our neighbors especially appreciate the tornado watch notification because they know they’ll receive an immediate invitation from us to come to the Maryan Wine Bar and Tornado Shelter. We have the only basement in our neighborhood! 😉
These updates arrive in real time if you have the proper notifications turned on. To do this, you’ll need to go into the Settings/Notifications on your iPhone and turn on “Allow Notifications” for The Weather Channel. Now, I’m not a big fan of being interrupted by random messages, so I have my delivery schedule set to Scheduled Summary. But here’s the important setting for your safety when shooting photos: Turn on Time Sensitive Notifications! They’ll be delivered immediately and might even save your life.
There’s one more step you’ll need to take: Launch The Weather Channel app and tell it where you are. I’ll talk a little more about this later, but get it set now and give it permission to always know where you are if prompted to do so.
Does this photo of tree pollen make you want to sneeze? Read on to learn how The Weather Channel app can help you navigate allergy season.
Use your location to plan an upcoming trip:
Now, what if you’re planning an upcoming trip? You can change your location to the one you’ll be visiting to help you plan. And you can save multiple locations to make choosing them easier. But when you’re finished planning, don’t forget to switch back to your current location.
Tip #2: Check out the Health & Activities section in The Weather Channel app.
Most people don’t look past the current weather forecast in the app, but there’s a lot to be learned by scrolling down past the weather videos (I can get lost watching them!) and ads.
Let’s start with the Health and Activities section. Here, you’ll find four headings:
For people who suffer from seasonal allergies, the Allergy section is full of current valuable information. It will tell you the level of local pollen, like tree, grass or ragweed, and it will also alert you to the level for the next two weeks. This way, you may be able to choose the best day for an outdoor photo shoot. Or you’ll know to load up on tissues.
You probably won’t be running as a photographer, but this section is definitely worth a look. It charts the day by the hour, with the weather conditions, temperature, level of precipitation, and the RWI: Run Weather Index for each hour. At a glance, you’ll be able to see the best times for being outdoors.
You can select Today, Tomorrow, or This Week. It even lists the time of sunrise and sunset, which can help you plan golden hour and blue hour photo shoots. It makes planning so much easier!
Boat & Beach in The Weather Channel app:
If you live near tidal water, this is where you’ll learn when the upcoming high or low tide will occur. It also lists the current Temperature, UV Index, Wind speed, and Direction, plus sunset or sunrise.
In the photo above, my husband is standing on our neighborhood beach on the James River. It’s almost high tide, so it’s not a good time for a photo shoot unless you’ve brought a bathing suit!
A few years ago, I shot a surprise proposal there. We arranged the time for low tide so the future groom would have plenty of room to spread a blanket on the sand and open a bottle of wine. Then, he knelt and proposed. I still get teary-eyed when I think of it. She was totally surprised.
But the funny part is that she had already noticed me kneeling and taking closeups of grass growing along the water. She looked over and said, “I wonder what that woman is so interested in?” Little did she know! 🤣
More sun and moon information:
Scroll down in the Boat and Beach section of The Weather Channel app, and you’ll discover some more valuable information for photographers. There’s a section for the Sun & Moon, with times and the length of daylight. Below that, there’s the Moon section with the time of moonrise and moonset with an illustration of how full the moon is today and the correct description, such as “waxing gibbous.”
Tip#3: Move on to the Outdoor Conditions.
I love the Umbrella Index because it’s so helpful! As I write this post, it’s pouring outside. The Index tells me that an umbrella might not be enough, which is true. But it also has a chart where you can choose hours or days, and it rates your need for an umbrella going forward. So simple! Being caught outside in heavy rain with your camera is something to avoid! Or to work around.
When I captured the photo above, it was raining heavily in Paris. I was there with a group of photographers and shooting models for stock sites, so we had a schedule to follow and models to pay. The Weather Channel app let us know in advance that we needed to find locations where we and our models could work without getting soaked!
Photographers spend a lot of time standing very still. We’re often in places where mosquitoes live when we’re capturing photos of nature. The Mosquito Index will help you decide if you need to wear insect repellant!
Other outdoor conditions in The Weather Channel app:
The Sweat Index/ Dry Skin Index, UV Index, and Heat/Chill Index change depending on the weather, providing useful information for photographers. For instance, you could use the Chill Index to decide if you need heavy gloves when you step outside in an ice storm to capture a shot like the one above.
Tip #4: The Air Quality Section:
You’ll want to check the Air Quality section if you are somewhere that is subject to air pollution. When we lived in Seoul, it came in handy during the periods of Yellow Dust, when it could be dangerous to be outside for extended periods of time.
Tip #5: Find the times for sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset in one place.
Here’s a bonus tip that’s perfect for photographers. We’ve already seen that The Weather Channel app shared these times in various places. Here’s another: Scroll back up to the Daily Forecast, just above Health and Activities. Now, tap on the day you’re interested in. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and there it is: The Sun & Moon section!
I checked The Weather Channel app before I went to bed the night before I took this shot. We were spending the night on Tangier Island, in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and I wanted to capture some photos at sunrise. I set my alarm and left Skip to enjoy a nice rest. By the time he woke up, I had ridden around the island on our rented golf cart and was back with plenty of photos to show him.
If you’ve been to Tangier, you’ll know that the large building in the background is the school, which runs from K-12. With a population of just 427 adults left on the island, there aren’t many children left to attend the school. I’ll link to a post I wrote about this trip below. Since we used to be boaters on the Chesapeake, Tangier Island has a special place in my heart.
Bonus Tip: Play around with the Radar section in The Weather Channel app:
Finally, remember that you can check the radar to see what is coming. When you learn to use this feature, you’ll wonder how you’ve done without it!
The radar section allows you to forecast where the storms will be in the next six hours! This is different from my favorite radar app, RadarScope, which tells you what has happened in the past ten minutes. For photography, forecasting ahead may help save you from being caught in bad weather. Or worse. (Just remember to turn your notifications on! Flash floods are hard to predict.)
Knowing it would rain allowed me to leave my hotel in Bayeux, France, with a raincoat, an umbrella, and a shower cap to cover my camera. When I saw this couple, I ducked under an awning, dropped my umbrella, and captured a shot of love in the rain.
Now it’s your turn:
Do you use The Weather Channel app? What’s your favorite feature? I’d love to know. Please add a comment!
Allow yourself time to search the app and discover all the hidden features. I have the free version, so I must scroll past many ads, and here’s a tip. If an ad opens and takes up the whole screen, wait a few seconds. An “X” will appear at the top, and you can click and dismiss it. The “X” is not there when it opens, though. You do have to wait.
Also, while you’re at it, enjoy some of the videos. Right now, there’s a video of a car with its lights on being flipped in the air by a tornado. Amazing!
If you’d like to learn more about Tangier Island, click here to read my post about our last visit there.
For more information about the Run Weather Index, check out this article in Women’s Running.
Would you like a quick and proven way to understand your camera to take photos you love? Be sure to check out my online workshop: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/camera-mechanics-workshops-info/
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