How I Know if the Sunrise/Sunset Light Will Be Good
When I first started out I had no idea what to look for. A sunset and sunrise happen everyday and if you want to catch an amazing one that lights the sky on fire with red's, pinks, and oranges you would have to go out every day and hope for the best. Turns out there are ways to better predict when a sunrise/sunset will ignite the sky with color and when it won't. Here is my process.
In order to get clouds like these you need high altitude clouds. Low-middle clouds tend to just squash the sunrise/sunset and won't light up. So we want those high altitude clouds to maximize the light in the sky.
Don't get me wrong, you can still get some amazing sunset pictures but in my experience its harder to get great sunrise picture unless you get these high altitude clouds.
So how do we know if there are going to be high altitude clouds? I use a couple different methods. I use a website called Skippy Sky. (http://www.skippysky.com.au/NorthAmerica/) this is a very very basic website that shows cloud formations. Start by selecting your region, then select which clouds you're looking for (high clouds), then select how many hours ahead you want to look. It give me a very basic prediction of how the clouds will look the next morning/night.
The second way I can tell if there will be high altitude clouds is with the app MeteoEarth. This is a free app you can download from the app store that tells you a bunch of valuable weather information. I mainly just use it for clouds, you can again break it down into low, middle, and high altitude clouds, and can then fast forward to sunrise/sunset. The app also tells you wind directions, speed, currents, temperature, precipitation, etc...
I sit down the night before/day before and look at these two resources to see if the sky will be good. If it's looking good I will them use the photographers ephemeris to find a location! I'll give a break down of my location scouting process in another post!