Hot Air Balloons

During the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, there is an annual event that I try to attend near my home in Decatur, AL.  It's called The Alabama Jubilee...but it's more commonly known as "the hot air balloon festival" around these parts.

Now, I've shot this event before, so I sort of knew what to expect.  I knew I'd have to arrive before sunrise.  I knew a tripod would do me no good here...in fact it would hinder me and slow me down.  Once these balloons start to inflate and launch things happen very quickly.  

What equipment did you take?  I took 2 camera bodies and 2 lenses, both setup differently that would cover most any situation I could dream up here.  I took my Canon 5D Mk II with the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Lens attached for wide angle shots.  Then I had my Canon 7D with the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Lens attached for longer, isolation shots.

This combo worked wonderfully!  The fast glass was crucial early on in the morning.  And, since I had one setup on one shoulder and one setup on the other, I could quickly change from one to the other without missing a shot.

While the balloons were inflating, I could use my 24-70mm setup to get shots like this:

Normally, I use the wide angle setup for shots after all the balloons have launched to get that shot of a sky full of balloons, however this year the sky didn't quite cooperate.  The sky was just very, very bright white, with not much color at all.  There was also a haze in the air that made everything look...well, polluted.  I did grab this shot, that I was able to pull just a tinsy bit of sky out of with Lightroom.  

Since the sky was pretty nasty, I focused on using my longer lens and isolating the colorful balloons and trying out different compositions.  This image was taken with the 70-200mm lens looking straight up after this balloon began to launch.  I was looking for colors, and it's hard to beat this.

This last shot is also full of color, but I think it maybe my favorite composition from the morning.  I happened to capture tons of color as the pilot was looking down at my lens.  He looks grumpy...I'm not sure I'd mess with him. 

Lastly, here is a full frame shot of one of another colorful balloon.  Filling the frame with this balloon eliminated much of the nasty sky, which, trust me...you did not want to see.  Again, I was able to pull out a bit of sky in Lightroom.  

So, that's some of my favorites from the morning.  I'm glad I had the lethal Tamron combo to shoot with!  It sure saved the day!