Sunday, August 1, 2010

Balloons and Moons

Every year Kingsport Tennessee puts on a 9 day celebration called Fun Fest.  One of the highlights of Fun Fest is the Hot Air Balloons on the second weekend.  The big balloon event is Saturday morning but this year I was in Jonesborough leading the Photowalk and couldn't make it to the Fun Fest Balloon Race.  I did get out Friday night for the Balloon Glow.   Several hot air balloons are set up outside the stadium where the concerts are going on.  They fill them with air and light them up like giant multi-colored light bulbs!

The location is full of power lines, street lights, buildings and other distracting objects making photographing the balloons a challenge.  This year we had cloudless skies and a full moon so I decided to see what I could do with the moon and balloons.

The first shot was taken just before sunset when the sky was still blue.  I liked the contrast between the orange balloon and the blue sky.  In hindsight I think I might have done better with a long telephoto lens from a ways back instead of my short lens up next to the balloon.  That might have made the moon look much larger in the photo.  

The second shot was later after the sun had gone down and the sky was dark.   Getting the balloon exposed correctly meant over exposing the moon.  As a result there are no details on moon and it just looks like a white dot.

The last two shots include the street, street lights, buildings and some of the thousands of people that were down there.   The balloon in the foreground in the third shot had just been taken down and was in the process of being folded up.  

Shooting the balloons required some timing.  They are very bright when they are being lit, which can result in a very over exposed subject, like the balloon behind the Remax balloon in the third shot.  I found it was sometimes easier if I waited until a nearby balloon was lit, which illuminated the other balloons with a soft light, like in the last photo.  A relatively small aperture (f/10) created the star burst effect on the street lights.   I was using an ISO of 800 and even at that, the photos were around 1 - 2 seconds long.

This was a fun event to photograph.  If you go, bring your tripod, a remote shutter release, and a couple different lenses. 

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