Tag Archives: aerostat

Wallpapers are Back!

Yep – after a bit more than a year away – we’re bringing back wallpapers!

But I thought I’d mix it up a bit…   🙂

Three big changes:

  1. I’m dropping the monthly calendar on each wallpaper.  Hopefully – this will make it a bit more “timeless” – and easier to download images for use whenever you’d like to add them to your screen.
  2. Tablet sizes!  Some images simply work in that square format – some don’t.  That means sometimes I’ll introduce images for laptops and PC’s – and other times only a tablet image will be posted.
  3. Images may not always land right at the first of the month.  But – if you’re a fan on Facebook or are subscribed to receive blog updates via email – you can be among the first to know when new images are posted.

hot air balloon mobile wallpaperSo – to get things started (again) – here’s a backdrop for all of you tablet-toting folks.  This particular hot air balloon photo is still one of my favorite aerostat images.

And, as always, all feedback welcome.  Enjoy!

(to download the image – just click on the image to get the full size – and then click to save)

11 Tips for Photographing Hot Air Balloons

The great thing about hot air balloon festivals is that there are no “back stage passes”.  Unless you happen to have a seat in a basket – everyone has the same vantage point.  And – I really don’t think it matters if you’re using a Holga, point and shoot, SLR, or imaging satellite – there are great images to be had.  But – shooting a launch is work.  It’s busy – it’s furious – and the whole gig can be done in 60 minutes or less.NW Art Air 2010 - Friday - low res-1

On the other hand, it can be tough to even know where to point your lens – as there’s simply so much stuff happening all around.  Now that I’ve shot a few of these – I’ve gathered a few tips that work for me.  So – in no particular order:

  • Again – it’s busy if you’re standing among 40 (or more) hot air balloons.  There’s color, noise, and a heck of a lot of photographers.  Try to take all of that mayhem – and simply pick 3 or 4 balloons that you’d like to focus on during the morning.  If there’s a little break in the action – you can NW Art Air 2010 - Friday - low res-2shoot the ones right next door, too.  Of course – you don’t need to have this list in hand when you arrive.  Simply pick a colorful one when you arrive.  When that one has launched – or you have the photos you’re looking for – just go pick the next one.
  • While you’re looking at your 3 or 4 balloons throughout the morning – look around at the horizon.  There’s a lot going on – and during a break in the action – those are the times to get your “big scene” shots.
  • If you can only pick one lens – go wide.  Your wide glass (zoom or fixed) will be more versatile while you’re there shooting.  Of course, there’s a place for long lenses, too.
  • The event is so short – try to limit your lens changes (in fact – I might recommend not changing lenses at all).  And the fewer lenses you have – the lighter your camera bag – and the easier it will be walking around.

balloons - albany art & air 2009-9

  • Try to minimize the visual clutter.  There’s a lot going on at a hot air balloon launch.  Try to leave some of it out of the frame.
  • Unless you’re looking for something creative (e.g. long exposures or graduated ND filters) – try to leave the tripod at home.  With everything happening so fast – you’ll want to be more agile.
  • A polarizer will help (though – I admit – I often leave mine in the bag).
  • Shoot from the hip.  Many of my photos are shot from about knee or ankle height.

balloons - albany art & air 2009-22

  • Shoot on burst mode – sometimes in that moment between shots – there can be a subtle change that will simply make the photo better.
  • Know where the sun is at.  Will you be backlighting your balloons – or will you have that beautiful morning light fall on the face of each aerostat?
  • Be polite, smile – and have fun!  There are a lot of other photographers out there, too.  Share that great spot.

hot air balloons - NW Art Air - 2010 - low res-31 And just in case you were wondering – yes, I underexpose many of my hot air balloon photos.  It can do a few things:

    • It can clean up the foreground clutter by making much of it near black.
    • More of the morning color can be highlighted.
    • I happen to like the architectural elements that silhouettes can add to an image.

Hope that helps.  And if you have more tips – please don’t hesitate to leave them below.