On Saturday, August 12, I attended the annual Fire Lake Balloon Festival in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
This event is always very popular, and features more than just hot air balloons, like live music, a midway with vendors, various hunting and fishing seminars, inflatables, kid’s games, and, of course, food.
My goal, however, was to photograph the hot air balloons, since I hadn’t been to a balloon event in years.
One challenge facing photographers, including me, is to avoid clichés and bring a fresh perspective to events that are photographed all year long by millions of people. “Ooo, pretty balloons” isn’t enough. My photos, and yours too, should do more than just show off your equipment or skills. They need to tell a story.
At this event, I saw more people making smartphone “selfies” than I have ever seen before.
My cameras for the evening were my Fujifilm X-T10 with a 16-55mm f/3.5-5.6 “kit lens,” and my Nikon D3 with the AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8D.
Hot air ballooning is completely dependent on the weather. It has to be calm and clear, with no rain or other hazard in the forecast. Even a 10 mph wind can delay or cancel the flights. But the weather was just right on Saturday afternoon and evening, and all the ballon events went on as scheduled.
I thought of Abby throughout the night. Last year we talked about doing this together, but her health situation took a sharp downturn just a week before. I know she would have loved this.
The evening ended with the signature “balloon glow,” with balloons upright and tethered so pilots could light them up with their propane burners.