Last winter, we were involved in an affair…a Hot Air Affair! Wanting to try something different, we loaded up the kids and headed to Hudson Wisconsin to witness the Hudson Hot Air Affair, hot air ballon rally. I was fighting a cold but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from getting some images of the balloons. It was really interesting to watch the balloon teams prepare their equipment and eventually get the balloon filled up. The balloons were carefully unfolded and before we knew it, colors were filling the launch area that was basically a large school yard. One after another, the balloons were filled and after standing still for a while up they went. It was a fun event to photograph because each ballon was unique to the others and each was very colorful. Gunnar and I got to see all of them fill up and launch, then drift off into the Western horizon. It was quite cold so Carrie and Violet stayed back at the hotel. Later that night there was going to be an event that I believe they called the “Afterglow”. We bundled everybody up and went back to the launch site to witness this “Afterglow” and boy were we ever glad we did. Yes, it was cold…but the scene we witnessed was so spectacular. None of the balloons launched but rather…they were all anchored down and inflated. One of the cool things was that we could walk amongst them…it was like walking through a forest of Air Balloons, and then every so often they would do a countdown and all the pilots would shoot flames into the balloons, which lit them up like light bulbs….it was an amazing site and I’m so glad that I could share it with my family.
The weekend was a great exercise in Cold weather photography. The number one thing is to keep your batteries warm. I keep my back up battery in my front pants pocket and that seems to keep it ready to go. I guess another very important thing is to be dressed appropriately so you can stay on the scene.
The way I approached this shoot was to watch the teams get the balloons ready, look for unusual scenes to shoot or interesting markings on the balloons. For example, one of the balloons had a big yellow and black happy face on the very top of the balloon. A person would really only see it as the balloon is inflating and lying on its side. And the cool thing is…I think I was the only photographer that saw it. There were several of us wandering around, yet I was the only one shooting this happy face. Be alert for unique opportunities, and be ready to capture them.