Making new friends at sunrise with hot air balloons

A hot air balloon floats directly overhead.

In Quechee, Vt., there is a fun little balloon festival each year. This morning I met a new group of friends from the Quechee Camera Club Meetup group for the sunrise launch.

It is a nice group of people interested in photography. There are a few pros but mostly people learning and experimenting with photography. It is good to see people get out and just have fun shooting and learning and not be worried about getting the shot that sells.

I’ve photographed lots of hot air balloons over the years. When I was 20 and working at the Muncie, Ind., newspaper, I had the assignment to shoot a festival’s sunrise launch, mainly because the other, older photographers didn’t want to get out of bed that early.

The balloon launch site was right across the river from where I lived. Being 20 and still in college, getting up before the sun on a Saturday wasn’t my normal schedule, so I was awakened by the noise at the festival. I looked out the window and they were starting to lay out the balloons. Yikes, I had overslept, so I grabbed my gear and hopped in the car and headed over. I got there as they were starting to inflate the balloons.

I had been challenged by the newspaper to get a ride in a balloon and get photos from that vantage point. I think they told me to do that because I was the new kid and willing to do anything. I walked from balloon to balloon asking if anyone had space for me. I talked my way into a basket and was floating over the countryside within 15 minutes after getting out of bed. It was a memorable experience and I got good display on the front page of Sunday’s paper although newspapers didn’t have color photos then.

So in Quechee I decided to concentrate on the colors. I have plenty of shots of balloons floating, so I wanted to try something different. The sun was just coming up over the trees as the balloons inflated. I shot mostly with my telephoto lens to come in tight on colorful patterns and balloons shapes that overlapped each other. I used my extreme wide angle to get right up against a blue balloon that was about the same color as the sky as another balloon took to the sky.

After the balloons floated away, I sat down with some of the other photographers and had a good chat about photo things. Plus I had a fresh-baked cinnimon bun, life doesn’t get better than that.

More photos are on the meetup group site.

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