Although drone photography is getting popular in recent years, instead of admiring the beauty of aerial shots in front of the computer’s screen, why not experience it yourself by flying up in the air? Every year in March, the iconic Canberra Balloon Fiesta is held in Australia. Whether you prefer enjoying the bird’s eye view of the city up in the air on a hot air balloon or admiring the multitude of balloons sailing into the clear sky on the ground, these spectacular scenes of colorful balloons on a backdrop of natural beauty are something photo lovers cannot afford to miss!
Prepare for Shooting Before Dawn and Dusk
For safety reasons, hot air balloon festivals around the world are all held early in the morning or in the late evening. 6:30am may be too early for work, but not for hot air balloons. At the time we arrived at the venue, the hot air balloons were on their way up to the sky one after one. The early morning time before sunrise provided a fascinating backdrop for the balloons, when the sky showed a rich palette of colors changing from blue to orangish-red. We took photos of the balloons in vivid colors by using a front lighting. When shooting, we need to pay extra attention to the change of light and color temperature before and after sunrise. You can refer to the article titled “Catching the Sunrise”
to learn more on the exposure setting. When shooting at dusk, use of a higher ISO setting is recommended.
Besides, a tripod can be used to aid the shooting on the ground. For those flying up in the balloons, a high-speed shutter coupled with small aperture should be used to ensure image clarity. Increase the ISO setting accordingly if the shot is under-exposed.
Telephoto and Wide-Angle Shots for Different Scenes and Details
In addition to the shooting skills, what types of lenses to bring is also something that needs to be given a thought. A wide-angle lens can capture a wide view of the environment, stunning scenery as well as the unique local landscapes; while a telephoto lens can be used for taking feature shots, making the subject stand out and offers flexible focal range for different framings. Take a look at the photos taken by Club Canon members in this article and choose the lens to use based on your preference!
If you are viewing the balloons at close range on the ground, you can use a wide-angle lens to capture the magnificence of the event by including the balloons which just took off from the ground, the surrounding people and the environment in the composition
Title : 《旭日東昇耀氣球》 Club Canon Member : EricTW EOS 5D Mark III
• EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
• 1/60s • f/22 • ISO 1600
In general, a focal length of 70mm is sufficient for capturing a multitude of balloons in the composition
Title : 《Turkey - Carpet Village》 Club Canon Member : Maximus EOS 50D
• EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
• 1/200s • f/5.0 • ISO 100
Although big in size, the hot air balloons look small when they fly up in the sky. To capture distant, close-up shots and to ensure shooting flexibility, we will need a lens of 200mm or above. As the light changes vastly during sunrise, “Auto ISO” setting is recommended to ensure fast enough shutter speed for sharp images.
Try Different Angles for the Best Composition
In addition to capturing the balloons during the magic hours of sunrise and sunset, what else are there to photograph in the festival? All the pre-flight preparation works conducted by the crew, the moment the balloons are lit up as well as the actions and expressions of the audiences are all good subjects to capture.
This photo shows how big a balloon is with the contrasting size of a human
Title : 《熱氣球準備》 Club Canon Member : Chong Peng Ho EOS 5D Mark II
• EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
• 1/40s • f/6.3 • ISO 800
We can take photos of hot air balloons amid the distinctive local landscape when they reach their maximum height
Title : 《熱氣球- Air balloon》 Club Canon Member : Leo Cha EOS 7D
• EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
• 1/250s • f/5.6 • ISO 160
This photo offers a fresh perspective by capturing the shallow of the balloon
Title : 《Balloon Tour》 Club Canon Member : Chit Chan EOS 5D Mark II
• EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
• 1/200s • f/8.0 • ISO 160
List of Hot Air Balloon Festivals Around the World
There are hot air balloon festivals and events around the world that offers similar photo opportunity. Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta is held every August in Taitung, and you can take a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey all year round. Besides, Melbourne in Australia, Napa Valley in California in the United States, Serengeti in Tanzania and Bagan in Myanmar are all popular destinations for hot air balloon rides. Before you go, remember to check on the best time and weather to travel!