Tag Archives: hot air balloons

Best of 2015: Everything Else

Earlier this week, I posted a few “best of 2015” rodeo images.  So, here’s a few from the “everything else” bucket.

Looking over these images – there’s quite a bit of low light work in here.  I don’t recall setting that as a 2015 goal – but if the shoe fits…

In no particular order:

These next two photos are from a yet-to-be-published project with a local food cart.



From a basketball tournament for Oregon Special Olympics.



Cliff Lake at sunset in the Seven Lakes Basin (Oregon).

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Milky Way over Big Lake (Oregon).

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Milky Way over Waldo Lake (Oregon).

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And, of course, a few hot air balloon photos.

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These next few images are from the photo story I did on the Super Plungers – a small group of Polar Plungers that jump once an hour for 24 hours into the very cold Columbia River – as part of a larger event to raise funds for Oregon Special Olympics.

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Hot Air Balloon Launch Time Lapse

As an experiment – I set up a Contour POV camera for stop motion capture (1 frame / per second). Then I stitched the images together at 10 frames per sec to put together a quick time lapse of the hot air balloon launch from Saturday morning at the NW Art & Air Festival. Enjoy!

NW Art & Air Festival 2013: A Few Photos

iSoar - NWAA - 2013-8Had a chance to get out for the hot air balloon launches this weekend over at the NW Art & Air Festival in Albany, OR.  This year – I worked the entire weekend with only a 17-55mm f/2.8.  And yes – there were times I wished I had the fisheye and, yes, there were times that something a bit longer would have helped.   But it was a good challenge nonetheless.

By the way, been digging the VSCO filters.

And, yes, that’s one of those crazy “tiny planet” panoramas up there.  Over on the Camera 47 Facebook page you’ll find a few more.  I’ve been experimenting a bit with them lately.

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Check Out the New PhotographyBB!

Issue #45 of the digital magazine PhotographyBB is now available.  This new issue is packed with a number of different photo articles – and best of all – it’s free!

On top of that – I had the opportunity to be a guest author this month – writing an expanded version of my 11 tips for shooting hot air balloons.

You can find Issue #45 and all of the back editions here (just a heads up – registration required – but I found it to be pretty straightforward).


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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

2011 Northwest Art & Air Festival: Hot Air Balloons

Had a chance to go out on Saturday morning and shoot some hot air balloons at the Northwest Art & Air Festival in Albany, Oregon.  It’s probably the largest annual collection of hot air balloons in this area – and it’s always packed with photographers.

Afterwards – we went to the Original Breakfast – also in Albany.  Oh, golly – some great food.

As it turns out – all but one of these were shot with the Sigma 10mm fisheye.  Still trying to learn how to use it – but I’m having fun with it.2011 art air - hot air balloons-5

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10 Images from 2010

First – Happy New Year!  And welcome to 2011!

OK – I’ve posted what I thought were 10 of my better rodeo images from 2010.  But when it comes to the rest of the portfolio – not only does the whole process become more difficult – but definitely much more diverse.

I’ll take a bit more time with this one – and maybe a note or two on why a particular image made the cut.  So – in no particular order – here’s 10 images from 2010.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know.


The first two images come from Willamette Celebration – one of the best photo experiences I’ve had.  I probably could have tossed in 20 images from the weekend – but that sort of breaks the whole “10 images” motif.  These two images, I thought, stood out from the pack.

This image – I thought – just simply worked.   It sort of tells the whole story without the need for much introduction.

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For the Newsboys – I pretty much just kept the hammer down for the entire time they were on stage.  Great show.

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Next up – Pt Lobos.  I’d like to get back there and try a few more.    It’s funny that this image didn’t make the blog earlier – but it has since bubbled towards the top of my list.  Maybe it’s the story it conveys – not sure.

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Hot air balloons have become a bit of a theme for me the last two years.  This image turned out better than expected.  To get this shot – I was down flat on the ground – and with a bit of neck strain – pointed the camera up at the people milling nearby.  Just glad nobody stepped on me.

hot air balloons - for blog - sRGB-1 The last couple of seasons – I’ve tried to shoot a bit of rugby (when I can make it out there).  It’s a club sport at the university – with great action – and casual sidelines.rugby - for blog - sRGB-1

Campus Rail Jam Tour – a.k.a. Snow in the Quad.  Could have been named Snowboarders vs. Photographers. snow in the quad - for blog - sRGB-1

I shot this image at a Tea Party rally in early 2010.  For a number of reasons – those images haven’t seen the light of day.  But I liked this image.  tea party - for blog - sRGB-1

Two years now – I’ve shot the Pro Life rally in Portland, Oregon.  This image is from the march leading up to the event in downtown Portland.right to life - for blog - sRGB-1

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  Local iconic architecture (and some might consider it trite, boring, overdone, and only good for postcards).  This image (I thought) was kinda fun – and just sort of worked.

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Mt Jefferson from Russell Lake.  30 second exposure with some filters near sunset.  This was taken not far from the tents.dudes go backpacking - for blog - sRGB-1

2011 Calendar Sale – Friday until Noon!

As it turns out – MagCloud is having their own Black Friday Holiday Mega Sale – but only until noon PST.  And that Mega Sale is dropping the price of the 2011 Hot Air Balloon calendar to $12.20.

So – if you’ve been thinking about picking up a copy of the 2011 calendar – and just haven’t yet hopped on over – quick – before noon!


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2011 Calendar Now Available!

OK – here it is – my 2011 calendar is now for sale over at MagCloud.  It features a dozen hot air balloon images gathered over the last two years at the Northwest Art & Air Festival.hot air balloon 2011 - front page - low res

70% of the proceeds from the calendar sales will go to support Show Mercy International.  Show Mercy – a non-profit located in Albany, Oregon – provides homes, food, education, clothing, and medical care to orphaned and abandoned children living primarily in Uganda.

If you want to learn more about Show Mercy – and their work with children in Uganda – check ‘em out here.

The calendars are only $15 – and are on sale now.

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Another Hot Air Balloon Photo

hot air balloons - NW Art Air - 2010 - low res-20Just tidying up a few images from the 2010 Northwest Art & Air Festival this evening – and thought I’d post this photo from the last morning of the event.