2017 Harvard Balloon Fest

I attended Harvard’s 2017 Balloon fest this weekend. This was my 1st time shooting Balloons but something I’ve wanted to do for years. I hadn’t planned to attend but on a whim decided to get up at 4:30am and drive out to Harvard IL to shoot the sunrise launch. I arrived to find a moderate crowd and a fair number of photographers, mostly amateurs like me.  I spoke to a few photographers and got some tips on shooting balloons, where to position yourself and how fast things move once they start inflating. One of the balloon owners gave me a tip on photographing the delicate dance of the pilot working to get the balloon from the ground to vertical which involves them sitting outside the bucket and heating it and as it rises like an acrobat they perform gymnastics to simultaneously manage the torch control while jumping into the basket. Fascinating to watch.  We had somewhat cloudy foggy weather most of the morning until the tail end of launch…you can see the colors start to pop more in the later images as we got some nice side lighting. It was fun to shoot all the colors and patterns in the balloons, but it goes very fast. You don’t have a ton of time to shoot before they are pretty much all in the air and taking off…maybe 15-20 min total. I found myself gravitating to balloons with interesting patterns where I could get some side lighting from the eastern exposure. I may go back to shoot one of the evening “glow” events which I expect will be even more fun and likely more crowded. In any case, enjoy the pics.

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