Burning red sky

Burning Sky

VIEWFINDR developed a revolutionary algorithm to forecast burning red skies for landscape photographers. The parameter output shows a probability for a red afterglow on mid- and high-altitude clouds with a height over 2000m above sea level. The accuracy is beyond every other weather app.

photography weather forecast

Burning Sky Tutorial

Burning Sky Forecast Parameter

This parameter shows the probability of red clouds at sunset and sunrise, also known as evening redness or morning redness. The parameter considers Medium-High clouds between 2km – 7km above sea level, and High clouds between 7km – 12km. Low clouds between 0km – 2km have a disturbing effect on the sky redness. These are included in the parameter “Afterglow Visibility”.

Therefore the parameter ” Afterglow Visibility ” must be considered additionally!

For an evening redness and morning redness at low clouds between 0km – 2km please consider the parameter “Golden clouds”. This parameter calculates possible light moods at low clouds at sunset and sunrise.

Sunset & Sunrise Times

The exact time of sunrise and sunset for your subject can be found in the sunrise and sunset times bar. The time changes constantly with location and season. The center of your display serves as a reference; the times refer to this location.

To observe the afterglow, be on site 30min before sunrise and remain on site until 30min after sunset. The afterglow always occurs when the sun is below the horizon. The afterglow can last between 5min and 30min.

forecast burning sky
Probability

The scale shows you the probability that there are red clouds for the area marked by the colour overlay. The maximum is 80%. Please remember: If no burning sky is predicted and no red sky occurs, then this also counts as a correct prediction!

Of course, there is a certain correlation between a high probability and a particularly intense red sky. However, this is not unambiguous. A high probability of evening red or morning red does not always mean that there will be a lot of red clouds. Conversely, this means that an extremely red sky can also occur with a low probability, just not as often.

With a 20% probability, you will not see a red sky in 4/5 cases. In 1/5 cases there will be a reddening of the sky. This is probably rather weak.

With 80% probability, you will not see a flush in 1/5 cases. In 4/5 cases there will be sky flushes. These are likely to be good and intense.

Try to imagine the situation in 3D. If you want to have an evening red or a morning red that covers the whole sky, then the largest possible area of colour overlay must also have a high probability. There is therefore a correlation between the area/size of the red colour overlay and a completely red sky! The larger the red area, the higher the probability that the entire sky will burn red.

scale burning sky
Change Forecast Time

By choosing another time, you can change beteween dates and sunrise/sunset. An up arrow marks the sunrise, a down arrow the sunset on the respective date. The forecast data will update every 3h with minor changes in forecast.

sunset and sunrise burning sky forecast
Position of the red clouds

The red color overlay on the map shows the location of the red clouds where they are in the zenith.

afterglow burning sky forecast app
Positioning tool

The positioning tool can be displayed in the tool bar. This can be used to determine the ideal position. The direction of the quarter circles changes in the course of the year. It follows the position of the sun. The innermost marker is the ideal position, which should be taken relative to the red colour overlay.

The red colour overlay marks the place of the celestial redness where it is exactly above the head. Ideally, the position a little “behind” the red colour overlay is more favourable in order to photograph the red clouds above the horizon in a picture-filling way in the photo. This ideal distance is indicated accordingly by the innermost marker.

On some days, the sky redness can be observed over a much greater distance than on others. It is therefore possible that a flush may occur at your location if you are within the distance of the outer marker to the red colour overlay. However, the probability is small. The greater the distance of your position from the red colour overlay, the lower the probability of being able to observe the sky flush.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make any kind of prediction about the distance over which the sky reddening can still be observed. This depends on factors that are beyond the control of weather models and measuring instruments.

The positioning tool changes accordingly with the longitude and latitude and adapts to the map scale. It also works reliably when travelling above the Arctic Circle.

Innermost circle: ideal position
2nd circle: high probability
3rd circle: medium probability
4th circle: low probability

photographer app to forecast burning sky
Temporal and local deviations

There may be deviations in the cloud forecast by the weather model. This is normal and cannot be avoided, as much as we would like to. It can therefore be that the location of the “real” clouds deviates a few dozen kilometers from the location of the clouds in the computer simulation of our weather forecast.

This is not a big problem if we are dealing with extremely large cloud fronts that extend over hundreds of kilometers. The deviation is then minimal. However, in the case of small, local cloud fields, it can happen that they can be seen in reality in a completely different direction in the sky.

For this reason, we recommend not to zoom the map too “deep”, but rather to use a coarse view. In the example, a large contiguous cloud front can be seen, as well as several local areas that are marked in red by our algorithm. For the small, local areas, the deviations make a lot of difference.

In the example shown, very localized red stripes can be seen. Even though there is a high probability in this area, sky redness is unlikely to occur. In comparison, much larger areas in the surrounding area are colored red. Therefore, please consider only large contiguous areas of high probability for success.

how to forecast burning skies
Select the suitable photo location/view

Choose a photo spot where you shoot in the direction of the sun. The red color is most intense in the direction of the sun. Use the sunrise and sunset direction tool for this. The color overlay marks the place where the red clouds are in the sky. In order to find the red clouds above your subject, you should position yourself so that you are looking in the direction of the sun. The area of highest probability should be in front of you, looking in the direction of the sun.  You don’t want the red clouds above your head, but above your photo subject

In the example shown, you can see a forecast of the dawn, and the sunrise is in the northeast. In order to see as many red clouds as possible in the photo, it makes sense to choose a photo subject so that most of the red color marker is in front of you.

The bad example shows an unfavorable positioning. In this case, most of the red clouds would be at your back when you take the photo. The color of the dawn on the opposite side of the sunrise is usually less intense.

Using the two observation circles, you can determine the maximum distance you can be from the red color overlay in order to still see a reasonable amount of sky redness above the horizon. To do this, fade in alternately the High Clouds and Medium High Clouds. If the red color overlay is congruent with the clouds, then you know which cloud type you are dealing with and which observation circle serves as a reference. The inner observation circle is for medium-high clouds, the outer observation circle is for high clouds.

Since medium-high clouds are between 2-7km high and high clouds between 7-12km, you can observe high clouds from a greater distance.

Two weather models - more forecast accuracy

In central Europe, two weather models can be found. Hence you find two opinions of the same forecast hour. This leads to more correct weather forecasts! If both models depicting the situation pretty much similar, chances are higher that the situation will occur in the forecasted way. If both models show a different forecast, you should trust the model with the higher resolution, as it can adjust better to local structure, like mountains and lakes.

We will add more weather models around the globe over time! If your region only has one weather model available, we try to get you a second one asap!

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Common things about weather forecast you should know!

Computer Simulation

The weather forecast in VIEWFINDR is a computer simulation that very realistically forecasts the coming weather. However, the forecast is not exactly the reality and there will be deviations.

In VIEWFINDR, new weather data is made available every 6 hours. For example, if you check the forecast in the morning, the forecast will change several times. This is perfectly normal and that’s a good thing!

The closer the deadline, i.e. sunset in the evening, comes, the smaller the deviation of the computer simulation from reality becomes. The forecast becomes more accurate. Before you leave for your photo shoot, you should therefore take another look at the current forecast.

Before you set off on your photo tour, you should take another look at the updated weather data in VIEWFINDR. If the probability has decreased, don’t be upset, because then the forecast has saved you an unsuccessful photo tour!

The weather forecast in VIEWFINDR is limited to 24h for local weather models and 72h for continental weather models. It is not useful to look into the future for a longer period of time. The forecast becomes inaccurate and is not reliable. Weather apps that allow forecasts of more than 3 days but do not provide any indication that the forecast is extremely inaccurate are a disgrace. This gives the impression that weather forecasting does not work. But weather forecasting works very well, even if not more than 72h into the future.

Weather Data Resolution

Just as the resolution of your camera is limited, i.e. it cannot take an “infinitely” sharp photo, the resolution of the weather model is also limited. This is 2.8km for Central European weather data and 7km for European weather data.

Structures and features of the landscape that are not that large are averaged by the model. For example, if a mountain is 800m high, and the valley next to it is 400m high, then the landscape for the weather model in that “pixel” is 600m high, corresponding to the average altitude.

This means that small structures, like narrow mountain valleys or local small river valleys cannot be properly captured by the model. This is not a problem, you just have to learn to deal with it. If a valley in the mountains is much smaller than the resolution of our weather model, then you have to interpolate.

Small valleys always end in larger valleys. You can therefore use the weather in the next larger valley as a good reference for the weather in a smaller, adjacent valley. In the example, you can see that the large valley is filled with fog. It is almost certain that the small valley is also filled with fog.

Due to the limited resolution, it makes sense not to use too much zoom. It is important that you look at the overall context. Therefore, consider the weather forecast not only for your location, but at least for the entire region where you are shooting.

best app for photo spots

This example show how the weather model sees the landscape. It is pixelated because of the limited resolution.

weather forecast for photo spots

Due to limited resolution, this layer of low clouds/fog will not indicate fog in valleys with a size below the resolution.

Check burning sky parameter

From the scroll bar, choose the time close to the sunrise or sunset in your area. The sun tool-bar on top helps you. The more transparent the map, the higher the chance for burning red clouds. If you encounter a transparent area, memorize it.

Check sun position

Sunset and sunrise directions change with the season. You can check on the mini map, if the sun rises or sets in the field of view for the chosen photo spot. If so, click the “navigate” button and visit the photo spot!

Check burning sky visibility parameter

Change the weather parameter from “Burning sky” to “Burning sky visibility”. If the map is transparent in the same area, the chance to see the burning sky is great.

Choose the right photo spot

Now just tap on a photo spot inside the area with high probability. A small preview opens up. If you like what you see, tap on the preview.

Check burning sky parameter

From the scroll bar, choose the time close to the sunrise or sunset in your area. The sun tool-bar on top helps you. The more transparent the map, the higher the chance for burning red clouds. If you encounter a transparent area, memorize it.

Check burning sky visibility parameter

Change the weather parameter from “Burning sky” to “Burning sky visibility”. If the map is transparent in the same area, the chance to see the burning sky is great.

Check sun position

Sunset and sunrise directions change with the season. You can check on the mini map, if the sun rises or sets in the field of view for the chosen photo spot. If so, click the “navigate” button and visit the photo spot!

Choose the right photo spot

Now just tap on a photo spot inside the area with high probability. A small preview opens up. If you like what you see, tap on the preview.

"Burning Sky" Tutorial

Play Video

Link a photospot

When uploading a new photospot you guide other photographers. Connecting a photospot to the burning sky parameter is not “making a wish”. Only connect photospots which actually can be photographed with a burning sky. Look at our example images.

How the algorithm works

To calculate the probability of a burning sky at sunrise or sunset, we use weather model raw data from the German weather service DWD. We use 3D cloud data combined with astronomical functions.

For every photospot we calculate the exact time of sunrise/sunset and the exact direction of the sun. Afterwards we “scan” through the 3D weather model cloud layers to calculate the probability. How exactly is our secret.

Afterwards we calculate the impact of rainfall, snow and fog, which both reduce the chance of light passing through the atmosphere to zero. We do not use the already existing “Skyfire App” algorithm. Our algorithm is way more complex and accurate.

Our Weather parameters

Burning red sky

Based on 3D cloud, rain and sun position we calculate red afterglow propability.

Fog layer height

Know which mountaintops to visit for “over the cloud” shots of photospots.

Thunderstorm cells

Numerical calculation of storm position relative to photospots.

Clear night sky

See which nightscape photospots will have a clear night the next days.

water reflection

Find perfect water reflections for your landscape photos.

Visible sunriseset

Cloudfree sunrises are more beuatiful than grey skies in the morning! We forecast them.

Structured sky

We forecast the perfect amount of cloud cover for long exposure photography.

Photo contrast App

You don’t need grey skies. We forecast when the sun is shining at your photospot.

Blue hour

Forecasting when the blue hour has no clouds in the sky with perfect light conditions.

Screening smoke

A fine layer of fog in the grassland is pretty nice to shoot. We forecast the propability.

Weather parameters

Burning red sky

Burning red sky

Based on 3D cloud, rain and sun position we calculate red afterglow propability.

Fog layer height

Know which mountaintops to visit for “over the cloud” shots of photospots.

Thunderstorm cells

Numerical calculation of storm position relative to photospots.

Clear night sky

See which nightscape photospots will have a clear night the next days.

water reflection

Find perfect water reflections for your landscape photos.

Visible sunriseset

Cloudfree sunrises are more beuatiful than grey skies in the morning! We forecast them.

Structured sky

We forecast the perfect amount of cloud cover for long exposure photography.

Photo contrast App

You don’t need grey skies. We forecast when the sun is shining at your photospot.

Blue hour

Forecasting when the blue hour has no clouds in the sky with perfect light conditions.

Screening smoke

A fine layer of fog in the grassland is pretty nice to shoot. We forecast the propability.

M.Sc. Stefan Engel

Founder, developer

M.Sc. Stefan Engel
B.Sc. Bastian Werner

Founder, CEO

B.Sc. Bastian Werner
Dipl. Met. J. Lang

Founder, meteorologist

Dipl. Met. J. Lang
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