A Very Tall Order, Indeed. Photographing Calgary’s Iconic “Bow Building”.

A Major Electrical Contractor Contacted Me.

They have a large selection of  Commercial Office Buildings in Calgary’s downtown core that they want Photographed, once again.

Some of these were unfinished, the last time they were shot and a lot of these images have been framed and hung on the walls in their offices for a great deal of time.

Fluorescent lighting, daylight, and archival values of printing all cause fading and colour shifting after a certain amount of time.
In order to make them look good again, they simply need to be re-photographed.

First out of the gate is ‘The Bow’ Building.
According to Wikipedia, at 58 floors– it’s 236 m (774 ft). tall.
A very tall order indeed.

The Bow Building-Calgary

Calgary’s tallest structure at 58 floors.

The clients specified three ‘must haves’
They wanted the entire structure from top to bottom, they also wanted the metal sculpture of the ‘Head’ at ground level and-NO people in the photo.

I had some reservations that I could ever accomplish all three from Ground Level.
This is a very large building and I had doubts that I’d ever get it all in.
If you move back even a little bit, there are multiple objects at street level; traffic lights, signs, traffic as well, all overlapping the structure.
Not mentioning taxi’s, busses and pedestrians.

I decided to go ‘scouting’ the morning of Canada Day, July 1st/2014.
Would it even be possible to get it all in without the hordes of distractions that street level would provide?

I arrive at the location, 6th Avenue and Center Street, at about 4:25 AM.
I didn’t even bother to mount the camera on a tripod, at this point.
All I wanted to do was see if it would even be possible.

I mounted a Canon 16-35/2.8 L Series lens on my 5DMarkIII and held my breath.

Sure, I had to tip the camera up a very great deal but, lo and behold, it was all in with a little bit to spare.
I was standing, literally, ‘Kitty Corner’ from The Bow, and i couldn’t believe my eyes.

There was a ‘road closure’ at ground level, that I simply could not get rid of, but honestly?
I didn’t really mind the splash of colour.

There were ‘Ti-pi’s’ erected on either side of the main door.

I moved around and a few inches to the left or right would cause a multitude of problems with lens flare from street lights, light poles and more encroaching into the frame.

I squeezed a few very quick, tripod mounted exposures, threw the gear back into the Van and headed home as fast as I could get there.

Loading the images into Lightroom 5, I did as much distortion correction as I possibly could, which amounted to about 30%.
At that distance, assuming you can ever get it all in, nothing on the planet that I’ve ever seen can get rid of the ‘key-stoning’.
Tilt/Shift or no Tilt Shift.

There will be a number of ‘Interiors’ to photograph as well, once access is granted.

I’d much prefer to capture this image with my 21/2.8 Zeiss Distagon if at all possible, but the 5 millimeter wider 16mm Canon may just be the only thing that can fill ‘the bill’. With a little luck, the road closure signs and ‘Ti-pi’s” will no longer be there.

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots


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