This is a great little application, written by Stephen Trainor and is downloadable here for free.
But what is it?
Well, it's a tool that allows you to find out where the sun (and moon) will rise and fall throughout the year and it also gives you the rise and fall times for the sun and moon too. If you look at the picture of the application above, you will see that I've got it set for Assynt in the north west of Scotland (where I've been photographing this past while).
What was not so apparent to me, was just how far south the sun is in the winter. Likewise, when you use Stephens calendar option to flip forward to say, June, you see the sun has a pronounced rise in the north east and setting in the north west. I was just never clear how pronounced this is and it's really helped me a great deal when on location to figure out just where the sun will be.
I have Tim Parkin to thank for all of this - on his excellent blog, he has a very nice article there about using tools such as TPE and also Google Earth to get an idea about a location before going.
I also use some Tidal software now too - there are loads of free tools out there, which are very useful for planning when you may want to visit a coastline. I've had a few mishaps (one time I saw my camera bag take sail at the bay of Duncansby head) because I hadn't planned my trip with the tides, and in fact, didn't know if the tide would be coming in, or going out.
I should stress that Tidal software is 'predictive'. The tide is governed not just by the moon and sun, but also by local swells due to the surrounding geography (adjacent islands for instance can affect the tide in the area where you are).
So I'd recommend three things:
1. Get The Photographers Ephemeris, it is free, and will help you understand where the sun will be at any location you decide to visit
2. Get some tidal software ( I currently use Mr Tides for the Mac - simply because it is the first I found that seemed to fit what I was looking for)
3. Visit Tim Parkin's web site - he's an interesting fellow who has a lot of good tips.