How to read the Forecast

Skyfire maps display the forecast for the area directly overhead of the map location.  This is designed to help you plan your photo shoot by allowing you to get into the optimum position for the composition you have in mind. In the sunset forecast shown to the right, Stephen is in great position to capture the fiery clouds as they will be lit from the west by the setting sun.  If he was on the East side of Denver the clouds would be back lit instead of front lit.

Skyfire uses base data that is 12 km^2 per forecast, so that means our output data resolution is 12 km^2 per pixel.  The output map is generated from this data, and as an example of the resolution this image of Chicago IL is segmented into 12km squares.

Skyfire Forecast Model Details

  • Class: Combination Dynamic & Statistical
  • Domain: Lower 48 states, USA
  • Data Type: Ensemble
  • Configuration: Grid point, 12 km^2 resolution
  • Forecast Range: Short & Medium

Does it really work?

Short answer, YES! For the long answer its still....YES! Working with weather experts and using my skills at generating algorithms to break down and predict behavior in complex systems a patent pending method has been developed to show when conditions are best for great light. We strive to maintain 80+% accuracy in our observations.  And being the perfectionists we are, the algorithm is continually being improved to allow for predictions reaching further out as well as increased accuracy around areas with complex weather patterns.  The cases where it doesn't work is when satellites err and don't pick up cloud cover, we can't analyze it if there is nothing there (at the end of the day its still weather forecasting). 

Accuracy tracking since launch - 911 observations verified with photos. 

Skyfire Accuracy: 87%  

NOAA/NWS Cloud Forecasting Accuracy: 92%

Functionality Updates Since Release

Marine Layer, multi-model analysis, offshore support, automatic updates, fog, more frequent updates, 4 day forecasts, golden hour and gap light forecasts, seasonal compensation, terrain modeling, mobile iOS app integration, overcast and clear skies mapping, multi-level clouds, and statistical based forecasting.

What we are Currently Working On

Android App, thunderstorms, and more!


Skyfire forecast evolution over 72 hours.

Source Data Scatter: Cloud Cover in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Skyfire forecast is an ensemble forecast, it aggregates data from NOAA and the National Weather Service and applies its own post processing to develop the best forecast possible.  Cloud data is very difficult to forecast as it is a complex process, so by using multiple data sources we can reduce our error rate.

On the leftyou see what the input/output data looks like on a typical week, with the Skyfire outputs in red. Take note of how the various input forecasts can disagree with each other, sometimes one is forecasting clear skies and another 100% overcast.  We work hard to use secondary indicators in the data to determine which is correct.

If you would like to explore forecast variances in your area provides a nice interactive tool to display the various forecast data sets.

Who is Skyfire designed for?

Skyfire is designed for the photographer who wants to go out and capture the best images in the best light. The people like me who cannot wait to run to their favorite photo spots to catch that golden sunset light. And who also appreciate knowing in advance if the sunrise will be worth getting up for at 5 am on a chilly winter morning.  Skyfire is another tool in the photographers camera bag which can help you plan shoots ahead of time which leads to better images.

Galen Rowell said that all photographs are made from three parts; skill, equipment, and environment. Skyfire lets you master the one element that has always been impossible to predict, the environment.


What area does Skyfire predict light for?

Skyfire currently offers prediction in the continental United States, Southern Canada, and Europe. We are working to expand the service as we continue development to other areas.


How often are the predictions updated?

The Skyfire predictions are first posted for the next 2 days (or up to 4 days for Premium level subscribers) and then automatically refreshed to adapt to changing weather conditions up to several times per day.  Update times are displayed inside TPE.

Why can't I create a new account?

Skyfire has partnered exclusively with The Photographer's Ephemeris to provide the best user experience possible, and all new accounts are through TPE.

Subscription Levels

Basic subscription provides forecasts for the next two days while Premium provides forecasts for the next 4 days.  All subscriptions are available as an in-app purchase inside The Photographer's Ephemeris app.

  • 30 Day Trial - Free
  • Skyfire Basic (3 Months) - $9.99
  • Skyfire Premium (3 Months) - $14.99
  • Skyfire Basic (12 Months) - $29.99
  • Skyfire Premium (12 Months) - $44.99

Why isn't it free?

It isn't about the cost to us, its about the value we bring to you.  Life is hectic, time is limited, and gas is expensive. Skyfire saves you both time and money while simultaneously helping you create amazing images. Start your 30 day free trial and see for yourself. Skyfire and it will help you take your photography to the next level while saving you time and money.


It says Skyfire App....where is the app?

The app is available for iOS as part of The Photographer's Ephemeris.

The Android version is expected very soon.


Are there other tools to complement Skyfire's functionality?

Tools like The Photographer's Ephemeris are excellent complimentary tools to use with Skyfire.  You can get additional weather data on your area and sunrise / sunset times at the NOAA family of websites.  For ideas on where to photograph in your area or at your trip destination try Shot Hot Spot.



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