The most photographed event in the world is the Albuquerque balloon festival. With over 550 balloons launching at once, it is a photographers paradise. With that many balloons, it is almost impossible not to get some amazing shots. In the Northwest, there are a few balloon festivals where two to three dozen hot air balloon pilots show up.
The Winthrop Balloon Roundup is actually coming up in just a few weeks. This can be a rare photographic experience since there will be snow on the ground. Two dozen balloons will launch each morning on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of March. It’s free and a ton of fun.
The other large balloon festival in the NW is the Tigard Balloon Festival. Here is a link to check it out. http://www.tigardballoon.org/#about
Some photographers enjoy just taking photos of balloons from the ground, however taking photos in flight is amazing. No matter when you go, it will be an incredible experience, and you’ll get some great shots. Here are 6 tips to set yourself up for the best photos possible.
1. Fly with other balloons
In Seattle, the best place to fly is in the Snohomish Valley. 3-4 balloons launch at sunrise and sunset each day from May to October. To get the best shots as a photographer, you’ll want to go in a balloon with less passengers. http://www.seattleballooning.com has private flights, that carry a max of 4 passengers at a time. Other balloon companies in Snohomish and Woodinville carry 8-10 passengers in their baskets.
2. Pick a scenic balloon company that flies over farms and rivers versus one that flies over neighborhoods and the city
There are balloon companies in Woodinville and Snohomish. The benefit of flying in Snohomish over Woodinville, is that flights in Snohomish pass over the Snohomish river and beautiful farming communities.
3. Book a morning flight in hopes of fog in a valley
Morning Fog is typical in the spring and fall in the Snohomish Valley Sometimes this can be frustrating, as too much fog will cause the flight to be canceled. Taking photos while flying over fog or clouds is incredible. If your really lucky you may get a shot like this one with the shadow of the balloon on the fog.
4. Reflections when the balloon flies over the water
On your flight, you will most likely fly over either a lake or a river. If you look over the edge of the basket you will get a great shot of the basket and envelope reflection.
5. Watch for groups of birds
Birds will take off when the pilot ignights the burner. Is a unique point of view being able to capture a flock flying from above.
6. Savor the moment
Don’t forget to stop taking photos, and enjoy the flight.
If you liked to take a balloon ride in Seattle, check out seattleballooning.com