Planning the Shot

by Ralf Rohner

I like thoroughly scouting a location before I shoot there at night, but sometimes I cannot do that, or I see an image of a place and wonder if it would be possible to capture the scene at night with the stars in the right position.

My “Like a Prayer” panorama is an excellent example for such a case. I had seen a few daylight images of the Chapel on Haggenegg in Switzerland and I knew that it would make a nice foreground for a nightscape. It had been on my to do list for daylight scouting for a while, when, on a foggy November day, I realized that the weather conditions would be perfect, but that I would not be able to arrive there before nightfall. Therefore, I had to revert to off‐site planning.

There are several ways to do that, but my preferred one is the “Planit! Pro” app on my smartphone. This powerful app can calculate almost anything: Rise and set times of the Sun, Moon and Milky Way core, light pollution, tides, star trails and time‐lapse sequences are but a few examples.

To show the power of the app for off‐site planning, I wrote this short tutorial. It explains how I planned the nightscape panorama mentioned above:


For the chosen 40% overlap, the app recommends capturing the desired 2‐row panorama with six

panels for each row.

Rotate the camera horizontally by 30° between the panels and vertically by 42.5° between the


By dragging the time line, you can see how the stars will move in your panorama.

You can also drag the panorama to turn your camera.

The yellow dotted line shows the position of the Milky way arch.

The constellation lines IMO are very helpful to get an idea what stars and deep sky objects are in the field of view.