Hot air balloons have really become a favorite of mine through the years. There is something about them that is just fascinating. The colors, the majesty... sigh... They also work well as a subject for photography, there are multiple points of view that can be approached with varying focal lengths. Take these first two shots for example:
17mm cropped to 4x5 aspect ratio focusing on the colors of the envelope with an accent of the foreground balloon basket.
Then scooting a foot further forward and using a fisheye lens but in landscape orientation, emphasizing now the burners and top of the basket with the colors of the envelope taking a diminished role in the background. If I could have gotten even closer I would have bumped right up to within a foot of the burners to even more dramatically show their textures, but without permission I would not even try.
When this little guy climbed on here I got really excited, still with the fisheye I snapped off some quick shots, and I liked this one the most. I could totally see me doing that as a kid!
Before they let these characters fly away they have a briefing with the head honcho and some of the volunteers. This was a tricky exposure due to the lightening sky over the mountains, I had to get an exposure for the foreground and let the sky blow out.
Switching back to my 17-70 "Standard Zoom" I began searching for the context and detail shots that to me make these balloons so special. This eye is on top of the balloon, only seen while inflating/deflating or flying over. I really need to get on a balloon while it is flying some day!
I LOVE the energy in this shot, I would have loved to use a tripod and 3-5 second exposure and have the people moving but I was all handheld this day.
The roar of the burners is stunning, the heat tremendous, the whole scene fascinating.
Intersecting colors, shapes, textures & the overall vibrancy of this kept me shooting until I got just what I wanted. I don't think I could have done any better in this circumstance. This shot PLEASES me.
Another in the series, I LIKE it, but the landscape orientation above pleases me more.
With the sun now peeking above the mountains, exposure became a hugely challenging experience, at times I have simply bracketed (sprayed and prayed) but wanting to be more precise to my vision, I was much more picky shooting in manual and checking my exposures on the cameras LCD until I achieved what I wanted. Stopping down to f14 also gave me some excellent rays from the sun to add interest.
These next two photos were taken from almost the exact same spot, but framed and exposed differently. (and post processed differently as well.) The first exposed more for the backlit colors of the balloon and less for the sky, in post processing I chose a cooler white balance for a pleasing sky that was "real" and true colors.
This second photo was exposed @ 1/500 sec vs 1/60 of the shot above, the WB was warmer to reflect the warm light of the rising sun and the decreased exposure retained more detail in the sky and gave me a highlight on the balloon rather than full illumination of the balloon, fading to black in the corner. Both work, but I like the second, I like the drama and the feel more.
As a matter of course, with balloons you spend a lot of time looking up.
In this case I think the portrait orientation shot works a little better.
Color, color, color. Shapes. Textures.
Contrasts in framing, a few steps makes the difference between symmetry...
& asymmetry. With the second my favorite. What do you think?
The occasion would not be complete without shooting a little HDR. Very hard to do when balloons are in the air. Kind of crazy when I want something WIDER than a fisheye lens that has a field of view of 180 degrees from corner to corner.
Hope you enjoyed the balloons. Pretty sure I will shoot more of these in the future! ;-)