Lens-Artist #113: A Labor Of Love

When I first saw this challenge given by Rusha Sams, my immediate thoughts went to raising children. They are conceived in love, raised with love and then their children are loved. Beyond that, when I was traveling, I wasn’t taking pictures. It’s only in my senior years that I discovered photography as a form of self-expression and a passion.

So, bringing “A Labor Of Love” down to very basic terms, I chose to show an activity that is a labor of love for participants and fans alike. My topic: Hot Air Balloon Festivals.

I’ve only been to two Hot Air Balloon Festivals. The first was in September, 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. I chose an entry level camera to start because I wasn’t sure about photography. It didn’t take long before I upgraded to the D7100. I heard about the balloon festival in Windsor, California. So, off Richard and I went in our 5th wheel trailer, staying two nights in what they set aside as a campground. I was warned that the show started promptly at 4 a.m., and it did.

I woke up to the announcer on the loud speaker saying, “Good morning Windsor!” I jumped out of bed, got dressed, grabbed my camera and ran out the door to be greeted by total darkness. Once on the field, I realized I hadn’t set my camera! I saw the green “A,” turned the dial, and ran toward the “Dawn Patrol” that had just set up. The rest is history. I had a great time. I loved the challenge of getting the shots, lying on the ground as the balloons went up in the air, kneeling down to catch a picture of the balloon being blown up. It was an exhilarating morning. Here are a few of my first shots with my camera.

Fast forward to September 2017 when I was shooting with a Nikon D7100 at the Reno Hot Air Balloon Festival, Reno, Nevada.

Linda and I decided to stay one night at a hotel and waking up at 3:30 a.m. rather than waking up at 1 a.m. and driving 2 hours. It was a smart move for two seniors! This was a larger festival and just as much fun.

I saw many of the same balloons in Reno as I did in Windsor. The pilots have such a love for this sport that they travel from festival to festival. Weather is a big factor on whether they can take their balloons up. The second day at Windsor, it was too windy for them to fly.

This was a nice memory to catch up on. Thank you Rusha!

Up, up and away: Great Reno Balloon Race

Riding in a hot air balloon is high on my bucket list, but I still haven’t done it. They are so colorful and inviting. I did make it up in a small plane, thanks to my great nephew Daylen. And, twice the balloon ride was within reach, but not taken.

The first opportunity was the Windsor Hot Air Balloon Classic in Windsor. I had just bought my D3100 in 2012, and this festival was my first outing with it. I was truly struggling to learn what this digital camera was all about. All my shots were on auto. Here are two images:

My second opportunity came this past weekend at the Great Reno Balloon Race¬†in Reno, Nevada. I have improved since Windsor and was anxious to shoot on manual/RAW. ¬†However, I wasn’t ready for the differences in the two festivals. At Windsor, some balloons went up in the dark; at Reno, they waited until daylight. At Windsor, the balloons left at different times; at Reno, most left at once–it was a race. So, I wasn’t able to capture shots like those above.

We did get an opportunity to shoot the balloons in the dark, but it was a challenge. They didn’t stay lit for very long. My exposure meter was all over the place. I did the best I could, and I got some good shots.

The other difference: They weren’t offering rides like they did at Windsor. It was a larger event and more people attended. So, I guess I’ll just have to find a hot air balloon ride somewhere. Next year is the year!

Here are some images. No captions necessary.