Getting Up At 5 AM To Shoot a Sunrise Is a Whole Lot Easier When You Know the Sky Will Be Clear When You Get There.
A few months ago, I was shooting a TV campaign for Farmview Market. I rolled out of bed, packed my gear, and drove all the way to Madison, GA—about an hour away—in time to shoot a sunrise at a dairy farm.
I got there in plenty of time, set up the shot, and started filming a time lapse. But then I ran into a problem—the sun never came up.
Well, not that I could tell, because so much fog rolled in, all I could see was solid white.
Weather Apps Don't Predict Cloud Cover
A few days later, I tried again. And this time, I checked several weather websites and weather apps, just to be sure. They were all forecasting zero percent chance of rain.
But once again, I didn't get the shot. The weather apps were all correct—it wasn't raining. But a row of clouds on the horizon was blocking any early morning color.
The same thing happened a few weeks later, when I was shooting an attorney video in Marietta. I met the client at the courthouse, hoping for some early morning "golden light" shots.
But there was no golden light that day. Just low-lying clouds.
There Had To Be a Better Way
At that point, I started searching online for a way to predict cloud cover, and stumbled across a website designed for astronomers—cleardarksky.com.
They use a color code system to forecast hour-by-hour observing conditions at over 5300 observatories in North America. You simply go to their website, and click on a location. There are over 100 locations listed in Georgia. They even show the locations on a map page.
On each chart, there are several rows of color squares, ranging from solid white (overcast) to dark blue (100% clear). It only forecasts about two days into the future, but that's all I really need for planning a production.
I've been using ClearDarkSky.com for a couple of months now, and so far, it's been extremely accurate. For reshooting the courthouse in Marietta, I referred to the Marietta Sky Chart. And for additional shooting in Madison, I used the Morgan County High School Sky Chart.
I wish I had discovered this site a lot sooner. It could have saved me from several reshoots.