Hypothetically speaking: planning a trip to shoot the Charles Bridge in Prague.

One place I’ve always wanted to visit is the city of Prague in the Czech Republic.  So, I was browsing the web one day and came across pictures of the Charles bridge. I thought it would be a beautiful architectural location to shoot. I can’t afford to travel there right now, but I thought: “wouldn’t this be an interesting experiment, but to plan a photo shoot trip to Prague”. Here are the results of that exercise.

I started the planning in early September 2017. First thing I did was to do a little research. I went to Wikipedia and looked up the city. My research gave me some interesting information on the history of the city, it’s geography, and some very useful climate data. The Charles Bridge spans the Vltava River, construction started in 1357 and was completed in 1402.  The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge but has been known as the Charles Bridge since 1870.  The weather is best between May and October with little or no precipitation.

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.38.54 PM.png

There are a great deal of pictures of the bridge on the Internet from a varying degree of locations and angles. I found one picture that I particularly liked and decided to see how I could reproduce a similar picture.


This is where tools like Google Street View and 3-D Google maps come in very handy.

Google maps 3D.png

From Google maps, I decided that the best location would be to shoot from the riverbank behind the Franz Kafka museum.  Next I went to 3planeta.com where there is a tool to measure angles on Google Maps (https://3planeta.com/googlemaps/google-maps-area-calculator-tools.html).  From there I discovered that I want a field of view of at least 47°. Which lens does this? Well, a 35mm lens on full frame sensor should give a field of view of roughly 54°. This just confirms that I would want to bring along my 24-70 mm lens and maybe a 35mm prime.


Now, let’s go back to the original picture of the Charles bridge. Where is the light coming from? The sun appears to be on the other side of the bridge, located to the right of the viewer, and not very high above the horizon. This type of light does not happen every day. To find out when it occurs, there is a very useful tool called The Photographer’s Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com). This tool allows us to move the date and the time to determine the location of the Sun with respect to the subject as well as the height above the horizon. My investigation, as you can see below, gave around September 26th 2017 in the late afternoon-early evening.


So that’s when we would need to go! The last step, if you have the fortunes to go, is to reserve your plane ticket. But wait, there’s one thing that could still make the mission a failure. And that is the weather. Very hard to predict. There is another interesting website called metcheck.com which attempts to make long-range predictions of the weather. Here’s what it gave me for the end of September-early October 2017.


Given a week to a 10 day window, the weather should be clement enough at the beginning of October to allow us to take some good pictures.  Just bring a jacket, the weather is a little cool.

So that’s it! A complete exercise in planning a photo shoot in a remote location. If you live in North America, you want to make sure that you don’t waste your time or money when your heart is set on taking a specific photograph.

I had a lot of fun with this exercise, hope it helps other photographers.  I wish everyone good luck and good weather and happy shooting.

UPDATE:  A very sharp reader from dpreview.com named Felix Schubert (http://blackforestnature.tumblr.com/) made a very interesting suggestion: look at live webcams to see if there is any recent construction work.  I found this shot at http://praguewebcam.com which shows no current construction.  Good tip!  Thanks Felix.


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