Channel Side Skyline

Commercial Architectural Photographer | West Tampa Skyline

As a commercial architectural photographer, I recently had the pleasure of being commissioned for a personal project by a longtime friend, Tim Boatright from Marketing Associates USA, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with on a number of projects since 1990.

Tim had a friend who was a resident of the Channelside district, in Tampa, who felt a deeply personal connection to the city itself, and wanted a shoot that represented that. The goal of this shoot was to represent the view of the Tampa skyline at the different times of the day; to capture the essence of the time of day, and how it affects the landscape in their eyes.

(The glowing, pre-dawn view of a city still asleep)
Commercial Architectural Photographer

This, of course, proved to be impossible to shoot in one day, thanks to the temperamental Florida weather (that should come as no surprise to native Floridians!). As a commercial photographer based out of Tampa, I’m used to working around these issues, and we were able to schedule the shoot around the weather, but it ended up stretching out over several weeks as a result.

West Tampa Skyline
Incidentally, there was construction occurring during this timeframe, which added an interesting element to the final shots, as the skyline actually changes during the progression of the “day” that I shot.

(Here’s a different view, showing the south side of Tampa, including a cruise ship leaving port out of Channelside, and the Sparkman Channel.)
Commercial Photographer

While there are a lot of different types of photography equipment to produce this type of imagery, I wanted to capture the skyline in a way that wasn’t flat, but really portrayed the livelihood of the city, so I shot these panoramic images on a common Canon 5D Mark II with a 17-40mm zoom lens, on a rig with a “cadenhead,” or a panoramic head, attached to a boom, hanging over the railing, dozens of stories high in the air.

The whole rig actually operates as one unit, so when you move the camera in these smaller increments, it clicks and stops, and you take a photograph, and take another, and another, until you have the entire 180 degree view.

Tampa Bay Commercial Photography

I then stitched the images together using PTGUI software, and touched them up in Photoshop.

One of my favorite parts about being a commercial photographer is being able to provide a number of images that capture each of the diverse facets of one location, and I think this shoot embodied that, showcasing the heart of downtown Tampa and Channelside in each of its “moods.”

Channel Side Skyline

I particularly enjoyed this project, as we got to use four panoramic images in the final product that showed the progression of the city throughout the day, from serene to hectic and back again.

These final images were then printed off at Eagle Photographic in Tampa, and now hang in the client’s home.

The client had this to say about the project:

“We recently moved to the Channelside district of Tampa. Having lived and worked in Boston and San Francisco as they transformed their waterfronts into revitalized communities, we regretted not having documented the the evolution of those neighborhoods.

“With Tim, we conceived a project to capture our changing slice of Tampa's Channelside district by photographing the cityscape during the course of a single day - sunrise, midday, sunset and nighttime in 180 degree panoramic photos. We hope to reproduce these panoramic images at regular intervals over the course of the next decade to capture what should prove to be a remarkable transfiguration of our newly adopted neighborhood.

“The first step of the project was to capture the changing light over the course of the day. Our condo has a 180 degree view of the Tampa skyline from 28 floors up, so we catch some of the earliest rays of light striking the downtown office buildings, traveling over the bay waters, and then sparkling against their other sides. I wanted to capture this sense of the daylight waking up the city, so to speak, and then following the transfiguration of the city from daytime and dissolving into a sparkling nighttime landscape.

“Tim was recommended to us by a commercial artist friend who was familiar with his work and who thought that Tim would be the perfect photographer for the job. We met to describe the project and our vision, and Tim joined in with this idea 100%. His approach from the beginning was completely collaborative.

“I showed him particular favorite spots, and he scouted out multiple vantage points from which to access the scenes. He worked through technical and artistic details I could never have anticipated. He managed the project from waiting for the optimal weather and lighting conditions to finalizing proofs. We talked about the various photo options from the proofs, and he gave expert advice. At the same time, if I wanted his personal opinion, he also gave that, making the whole process personable as well as professional.

“In the end, Tim's images captured the essence of what we had had in mind when we were first thinking of the photography, capturing the beauty and excitement of today's Channelside and downtown Tampa as a prelude to what is yet to come. We have a set of 4 beautiful individual yet related prints on display now for all our friends to enjoy when they come over, and look forward to adding to them in the coming years.”