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.

Frozen: Shooting and light painting silos at night

Night photography–a lot of fun and a great learning experience. The only problem with night photography is that you freeze. And, there’s more than one way to become frozen. This time we went along Highway 99 in the Yolo County area to shoot the full harvest moon, the sunset and light paint silos. We met at about 6:30 p.m. and didn’t get back home until 10:45 p.m. We’re an adventurous bunch.

The first set of silos were located along the Sacramento River. As soon as we began setting up our cameras we knew it would be cold. It was a cold wind that blew across the farming area, and soon the physical “frozen” set in. We caught what we could of the moon and sunset and then moved to another vantage point to shoot the silos. I’m slowly getting gear for night photography. I have a couple of light sticks which don’t throw much light and a nifty new flash light that has range when it’s on white. Now I have to get gels to cover the flash light, and I can light paint on my own.

I became mentally frozen when it became dark and we started shooting long exposures. I couldn’t figure out how to dial in the right shutter speed! I stood there becoming more and more frustrated when one of the photographers finally helped me. Once he showed me what to do, I was set for the rest of the night. Yes, frozen in two ways! I think I should have started this hobby 15 years earlier!

All in all, it was a great night. By the time we got to the second silo, the wind had stopped and it was warmer. I had a lot of fun at the second silo because our coordinator had talked to the owner, and we were able to walk around the grounds. A couple of cars and workers were there also.

Night photography is fun, but bring a lot of layers because you don’t want to get frozen.