Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Jewels in the Sky.

This is probably a first for this blog. The post you are about to embark on has absolutely nothing to do with motorcycling. With the small exception that I rode Elvira to this event. Maybe there's some sort of connection between hot air balloon pilots and motorcyclists. I'll leave that to you.

I rode early in the morning to the NW Air and Art Fair. This three day event is marked by hot air balloon launches. This was the first day. Forty two balloons rose to become jewels in the sky.

My thought here was to just share some of the photos from the morning. A couple of things were noteworthy. The balloons lend themselves to pictures. They are beautiful craft without a doubt. Secondly, it was the first time I've gone to an event like this and felt like I sort of knew what I was doing with a good camera. These pictures were taken without the aid of any automatic help from the Nikon. Actually, I did use the aperature priority setting for a few shots. This is the also my maiden voyage in using the camera on fully manual settings. The summer spent studying the subject has increased my confidence level, if not competence level! My brain is filled with the image of aperature, shutter, and ISO settings fighting each other to stay balanced on the seesaw.

So here are the photos. I'm only going to offer a couple of comments in between. I hope you enjoy the photos!

Not a bad way to start a day. He's surrounded by color!

This next photo was by special invitation. I must have looked like I knew what I was doing. A woman from the balloon crew asked me if I wanted a unique shot. She then invited me to snap a quick photo from the top cap of the balloon. This is the opposite of what you usually see.

The fire shot is harder than it looks. You have to catch it at exactly the right time. Once the flame starts, it's hot and blue in no time. Efficient, but not photogenic. This took a few tries.

This guy is not in a basket, if you notice. He's hanging from a harness with the burner strapped to his back. My kind of pilot! This photo convinced me I need to buy a lense bigger than 200 mm. I'm also quite thankful for the tripod!

This is from playing around with PhotoShop. The balloons look kind of cool to me all wrapped in plastic.

Have a nice day! Once the balloon is in the air, only other pilots will see the smiley face. I guess there's a payoff for coming to the launch.

One more special effect from Photo Shop.

Miles and smiles,



Mike said...

Nice photos - very nice. The color and composition are great. You captured the event from setup to flight.

I always get good riding info and stories from your blog and you're good with that Nikon too.


RichardM said...

Maybe there is a tie between those that like motorcycles and those that enjoy balloons. Years ago, I helped make a balloon from gondola to the envelope (including decorations). It was a great class and everyone got rides. I also have been on a couple of balloon rides here in Alaska. We don't have that many here in the interior so I haven't seen a big launch since I went to the Albuquerque festival and that was over 25 years ago.

Great pictures! Thank you for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

I'm not keen on the photoshopped stuff, but great photography there!!

I used a 200mm a lot too, but it runs out too soon sometimes. You won't regret getting bigger ;-)

What about, a jet engined bike, that has a folded balloon in the back? Ride, reconfigure, fly ... sorry ... float ...


Danny said...

Very nice photos. Sometime look for a balloon event where they do the sunset/sunrise glow. Lots of great photo opportunities when they light up the balloons and you see them all glowing.

cpa3485 said...

Great pictures, Dan.
We used to have a good size balloon launch here years ago at the time of what we call the river festival. They don't do it anymore, unfortunately, but the beauty was always something to see.

Krysta in MKE said...

I've never seen the inside of a balloon before! Nice of her to let you do that shot.

Didja know that hot air balloons have right-of-way over all other air traffic? And helicopters have to yield to everyone. It's based on maneuverability, like boats.

Roy Karny said...

Hi there Dan,
Nnniiiiiccceeeee photos. Your blogs inspires me on a regular basis, My wife & me almost had our share of a ballon ride during our honeymoon yo Italy, Cause of the weather it hadn't worked out...
We never gotten to take it but met out of the ordinary couple and were invited to their old and magical home.
I miss Italy!

Tnx for sharing with us :)

kz1000st said...

The first time I saw a hot air balloon flying I was riding the bike to work early in the morning. It wasn't a usual sight for a place like suburban Long Island and I had to think hard about what I was seeing. Once it registered it was beautiful in the semi-lit sky gracefully breezing along. I've only seen one other since, in a less populated area, equally as enchanting.

Anonymous said...

An Auto-Nikkor 70-300 f/3.5-5.6 VR zoom should solve your problem.

Get the VR, vibration reduction; that is most important.

About $550.00 here in Canada.

And because it's a standard lense on a smaller digital sensor the eqivalent views will be roughly larger ie 300 will be eqivalent to 400 mm.

Lucky said...

Nice photos! Of course, I don't trust those sneaky hot air balloon pilots, even less so in packs. People are scared of hordes of motorcycles, but at least you notice bikers coming. Hot air balloons can just drop out of the sky, pillaging and spreading mayhem.

What? It could happen.

Dean W said...

KZ1000ST / Lucky-

My first up-close view of a hot air balloon came when I was a kid, 13 or 14, camped out in the neighbor's back yard. I woke up to WHOOOOOOOOSH (mumble? MUMBLE!) WHOOOOOOOOOOOOSH whump OW! as the balloon came down in the neighbor's cow pasture.

The one that had real, live, (panicking) cow-pie producing cows in it. The one fenced with barbed wire. The balloon gracefully draped itself over the barbed wire and did a credible job of finding most of the fresher cow-pats.

It was not the best landing; the paying passengers were less amused than I was; the ground crew wasn't real happy, either.

But they sure are pretty up in the sky.

That guy without a basket- is that some sort of high-performance racing balloon, or what? ;-)

American Scooterist Blog said...



Wow :)


Alessandro Melillo said...

it must have been a dangerous ride, as surely your attention was constantly diverted by looking up in the sky, eheheh!