Tuesday, September 2, 2014

08/23/14 Lincoln, IL Hot-air Balloon Festival

 A pastel color sunset providing a beautiful scene at the Hot-air Balloon & Art Festival in Lincoln, IL 

On August 23rd, I attended the Hot-air Balloon & Art Festival in Lincoln, IL. I had always wanted to attend one of these events, but seemed to never find the right opportunity. I was lucky enough to have this particular weekend off this year to attend however. On this evening, I used my Canon 5D Mark III along with my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L lens and Canon EF 70-300mm f4.0-5.6 IS lens to capture the event. These events can be tricky because of the weather since they will not launch the hot-air balloons if the winds are too high for instance greater than 10mph or of course any threatening weather is in the area. It appeared the weather would cooperate on this day so I left Peoria, IL by 4:30am en-route to the Logan County Airport in Lincoln, IL. It was quite an early morning for myself since the balloons were scheduled to launch at 6:30am. It was a great morning for a balloon launch however with light winds and even some valley fog in the area. I used the fog and haze to capture some photogenic scenes with the hot-air balloons during the early morning. Once the balloons launched they returned within a hour and I captured several of the landings as well. After snapping a large amount of photos I called it a morning and returned during the evening photographing a much larger balloon launch at 6:30pm, but the weather just about ruined those plans. There were some thunderstorms that luckily stayed just north of Lincoln, IL thankfully so I photographed Round #2 of the event later in the evening. This time the balloons all launched from the same area in clusters. Once they returned near dusk I captured a few shots of the "balloon glow" as well after an amazing sunset thanks to the departing convection. It was quite a fun and rewarding day of photography and I've added quite a few of photos from both balloon launches below:

Beautiful lighting thanks to the valley fog early on in the morning for the event!
 Quite a colorful shot!
I saw this shot in the making so I positioned myself to capture this gentleman's silhouette as they began to setup the hot-air balloon...
Observers talking amongst themselves making sure things are going to plan...
She's all ready to go!
Up, up, and away!
"Dropping in"
A fairly large crowd for a very early Saturday morning!
Dueling hot-air balloons!
I was surprised how close this one was to this tower...yikes!
The National Weather Service Lincoln, IL Doppler Radar and a landing hot-air balloon all-in-one shot!
Quite a variety of shapes and colors...
I gotta ride in one of these someday...I bet the aerial view is fantastic!
"A fleet of hot-air balloons ready to land"
"Captains of the sky"
Very colorful!
A lot going on in this photo with one balloon that has landed and two more making their approach...
"The end of Round #1"
The crowd watches as Round #2 begins at 6:30pm...
A photographer's action-shot (left) through another photographer's lens...neat stuff!
My turn to get a view inside...
"Hot-air balloons unite"
"Reach for the sky"
"Taking off into the sunset"
"Leaving on a hot-air balloon"
"Hanging on"
Action-shot of this gentleman as they get setup to launch!
"A colorful sunset"
T-minus 30-seconds to launch...
"We have lift-off"
This one looked like an "emerald city" hot-air balloon I thought!
"Burn, baby, burn!"
"Are we set"?
Ready to go and touch the sky!
This guy was getting quite a close-up...
Tethered balloon rides!
Military vehicles at the airport!
Too cool not to photograph...
"I feel the need. The need for speed!"
A well-framed shot!
And another...
Now that's a flame!
Golden-hour providing an amazing sunset as a backdrop!
"Light up the sky"
The photogenic skies definitely didn't disappoint!
Pastel colors as a backdrop...oh yeah!
A few people taking a few shots as the balloon begins to rise...
One more before the balloon glow...
The balloon glow begins!
Quite a challenge to photograph...
"Glowing in the dark"
The end of the hot-air balloon glow and festival!

This was a great event to have the privilege to photograph. I'm sure I'll be back to attend once again in the coming years. That's all for this post. I'll be adding some more posts in the coming days as well.