Game-changing photography app wows Millennials, frustrates technology-resistant old timers.


Imagine you had the god-like Captain Planet-esque power to predict really kick-ass sunsets. You wouldn’t be a huge asset to the crime-fighting community but you’d still be deeply admired for your abilities….

*dream scenario* You swivel your neck dramatically towards your date and say “Hey babe. I got you something special. It’ll be here in dos hours.” Two hours later You stroll down Abbot Kinney in your crisp new Van Heusen, park your buns on the beach, casually point up at the absurdly-vibrant, meteorological-Bob-Ross-masterpiece painting of dust and moisture and sunlight and say “Those are some happy little clouds. You’re welcome, my little Honey Bunches of Oats.” *dream scenario fades out* There’s no way. That’s some ridiculous, Marvel comic-to-movie screenplay stuff. INCORRECT. You too can now be an oracle of the heavens with the new iOS app, SkyFire. It’s a game changer for lazy photographers.

SkyFire is the brainchild of Matthew Kuhns, an award-winning California-based landscape photographer and aerospace engineer. The app is actually a piggy-backed service on The Photographer’s Ephemeris app (which I honestly have not played around with, though it looks neat). To build SkyFire Kuhns used science to create spreadsheets and pie graphs and harness the power of the sun. Something like that. The app uses satellite data and weather predictions to form a complex algorithm that produces color-coded, location-based maps to show you the best possible spots to nail the good light. It even has the ability to predict up to four days out, but, just like weather forecasts, for the most accuracy the prediction is best referenced within a couple hours of your expected shoot window.

I was skeptical the first day I tried SkyFire even though it predicted a red patch (the highest likelihood of a vivid sunset) over my house. I sulked in my lair editing only to have the sky burst into fiesta of color outside my window later that evening. I shook a celebratory maraca, rolled some Rs and vowed not to miss out on the next positive prediction.

A couple weeks later I decided to try it out while visiting my folks in southeastern Washington. The second night of my visit SkyFire had another red prediction, which I soon found induces a child-like Christmas Eve-level of excitement. This is the result. The first thing you might notice is that the photo is not that impressive creatively. But you can’t deny that it destroys your retinas with pigment. The photo has zero color enhancement, only some exposure changes. That’s hella SkyFire, you might say.

Pasco, Washington

2015-06-20 T 21:07:47.76

positive SkyFire prediction

positive SkyFire prediction

Over the following months I used the app a ton while planning for shoots. I even backchecked the predictions on a few shots with Matthew to look for consistency. When referenced within an hour or so of a shoot I’ve found the app to be accurate probably 95% of the time. Even areas where the prediction is less-than-ideal (cooler color temperatures) the results are often worth going out for.

Moscow thunderstorm

2015-5-16 T 19:39

medium SKyfire prediction

medium Skyfire prediction



2015-5-12 T 21:50

low SkyFire prediction

low SkyFire prediction

Really for $10 for 3-months it’s sort of a no-brainer for anyone who shoots outdoors. Plus, you can try it for free for 30-days after you buy TPE. So go wow your 11-year-old nephew for two-minutes and frustrate grandma after she’s done printing off her e-mails to read. This one is neat.