As you enter Calgary from the south you crest a plateau. You see it, right where you choose between Deerfoot and Barlow Trails. You find yourself looking out and over Calgary’s sprawl. It’s a panorama shot I want to take – Calgary’s skyline looking northward and a nudge west to downtown towers. It has happened a couple of times driving up through Calgary. I find myself recognizing the potential of this shot. And, each time I am at the beginning of a drive home of eleven or more hours. Impatient to get the drive done, I haven’t anticipated the stop and time for working this shot. Do dissonant moments like this happen to you as a photographer?
This Calgary skyline panorama shot will need tripod and head levelled. The head will accommodate a Canon 5Diii via L-bracket plate for telephoto lens, a Tamron 150-600mm lens zoomed in as far as needed. Aperture priority will be used to allow a consistent exposure of f-8 or f-11. Manual focus using back screen magnification will allow me to find sharpest image to work with in editing. I want most things in this photograph to be sharp and in focus. I will trial two methods for finding focus: first, focusing on an element a third of the way into the scene (a standard practice); and, an alternative method, if the foreground is more than a metre from the lens, is that promoted by Nigel Danson – focusing on the most distant point needing focus (the towers). And, there’s one additional focus element to bring into play – locking up the camera’s mirror as a means to reduce camera vibration (if it is windy mirror lock-up won’t do much). Then it’s about gathering a series of shots overlapping by a third on each. Depending on how far I have focused into the scene (and how much the scene fills my viewfinder), the panorama will need three, five, seven or more shots. In terms of composition, I intend to keep Calgary’s towers to the left side of the image – that’s my starting thought. But, it will be good to look all around what this scene presents – there are always other compositions to consider. Here, though, juxtaposition is what this scene seems to call for – the vertical of Calgary’s downtown towers and the horizontal sprawl of the city.
The Rocky Mountains may be at play in the background, a welcome element in the shot. Cloud work will add to the shot – there may be wisps of Cirrus clouds at dawn. Working through the blue hour and into sunrise will yield many colourful panoramas to work with. Other panoramas are possible, further along the Deerfoot, each with other foregrounds from which to consider Calgary’s skyline.
So, this panorama of the Calgary skyline needs planning. And, it needs me to make time for the making of this shot. A trip to southern Alberta will need to consider dates, best day(s) in terms of weather and times. It might be good to work these images over two days – a day to scout and review starting shots. And, then a second day for taking final images. With two days it might be good to organize other shots and activities as a way to utilize both days (a visit to The Camera Store is never wasted). Rest will need to be factored in. While luck favours the prepared, having slept well adds to the outcome of a photograph. Working through this post is a kind of preparation. It is enough to allow me to work this photograph’s intention through to reality. I’ll need to be safe working near the highway. That’s part of my consideration, too. Good.
For this Calgary Skyline panorama (above), a YouTube video and Google maps helped me find this vantage point – something workable. I found my way from the Deerfoot to this location. I parked my truck, loaded camera gear on my back, walked down the hill and set up tripod and camera. I trialed four panoramas from this location and looked for other possible subjects of interest. Then, these few moments exhausted, it was about packing up, walking the hill, stowing gear in the truck and returning to my homeward drive. This image is one I will shoot again as dusk shot, night shot and as winter scene in snow – that planning is ahead of me – something to look forward to.
Listening to – U2’s ‘Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,’ ‘Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World,’ ‘Elevation (Influx Mix),’ ‘When I Look at the World,’ ‘Get On Your Boots (Fish Out of Water Mix),’ ‘New York,’ ‘Magnificent,’ ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Grace.’
Quotes to Consider / Inspire: (1) “If you say there is nothing interesting to shoot, it is you that is not interested (Jon Luvelli).” (2) “I put together artwork like tiny pieces of a puzzle, with hopes of one day seeing the whole complete picture and therefore understanding myself more (Jon Luvelli).”