I’ve been a Skyfire subscriber for a number of years and it does an amazing job, but I was frequently being asked if there are any good free alternatives. So the search began and in came SunsetWx. This free sunrise and sunset predicter is marketed as the perfect no cost way to ensure you are capturing sunset and sunrise photographs that offer the best impact.
But does it hold up on a performance and accuracy level? Read on for the full SunsetWx rundown.
US Sunrise Forcast
US Sunset Forecast
Europe Sunrise Forecast
Europe Sunset Forecast
Worldwide Sunrise Forecast
Worldwide Sunset Forecast
How To Use SunsetWx
From the SunsetWx homepage you can load a map that will show the times for sunrise and sunset in the specified region for the next 24 hour period.
SunsetWx data is collected from 3km NAM and 13km GFS. The former is a mesoscale numerical weather model and provides information for the United States. The latter is a synoptic scale numerical weather model utilized for information pertaining to anywhere else in the world.
Now let’s get into the different data sets and how it is organized.
You will find the time for the predicted weather conditions on the homepage under the title “Valid At”. This is the exact predicted times for sunrise and sunsets in your specified area. This is the most important piece of information I use when planning my landscape photography trips.
You will also find forecast hour which let’s you know how much time in computing is being viewed. Not super important for us photographers but I was wondering what this meant and had to look into it.
Initial hour is the third piece of data you can find on the homepage. This is another piece of information that won’t necessarily be needed but it is there to indicate the cutoff time for the latest weather data collected.
Now that we’ve looked at the different data sets, let’s take a look at their functionality and usefulness.
The most basic functions of this software are to display sunrise and sunset times for 1 hour in your area over the next 24 hours.
There is a ton of data provided to help you plan your landscape photography sessions.
Included in this free download of SunsetWx are weather data from 3km NAM and 13km GFS. This data is very accurate the majority of the time making it an ideal free sunrise and sunset prediction solution.
The app for this tool is a bit on the slow and clunky side. It does function but for those of us used to polished and slick photography tools, it can take some getting used to. I hope for improvements in the future but as with many free tools, you have to accept some tradeoffs and in this case it is not a deal breaker.
Weather Prediction Accuracy
Outdoor and landscape photographers need to have access to accurate weather forecasts to avoid getting stuck out in dangerous weather. The accuracy on weather predictions is not the best I have used. For that reason I do not look to SunsetWx for my weather planning needs. It’s is much better as a sunrise and sunset predicter.
Clear Sky Predictions
Again, this does not offer the best predictions and this may be the biggest downside to this system. It’s great receiving accurate sunrise and sunset predictions but it won’t matter much if you have a cloud filled sky obscuring your view. This system requires the use of a more robust weather and cloud cover predictor for most photographers needs.
If you are planning a sunrise or sunset shoots, it’s well worth the small investment of time in learning to use SunsetWx for the added boost in your success. It’s free, accurate and works as advertised. There is not much more to ask for. Give it a try and see for yourself how helpful this tool can be.