Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crown of Maine Balloon Fair, Presque Isle, Maine

The fair was wonderful. The weather was perfect. The balloons were pretty and it was not at all crowded. Unfortunately I took at least 1500 photographs. It has taken three full days to select the ones worth editing, and my eyes are red, bleary, and kind of crossed. I'm also heartily sick of balloons, photography, and my Mac.  OK, my original post was a little cranky. Sorry about that! What I really meant to tell you about was how beautiful Aroostook County is. I hadn't been north of Machias since our high school trip to Quebec City, oh, twenty-something years ago. Presque Isle, the site of the balloon festival, is about 4 hours north of Bar Harbor. Not much further on to Canada from there! The countryside is lovely, and even though Presque Isle is a good-size city that includes a University of Maine campus, the farms and fields seem to go right up through it so it feels rural almost everywhere. Ironically none of my countryside photos came out, probably because I took them from the car.
I went to the fair hoping to get lots of shots of balloons floating together in a deep blue sky, something like the one above,
but I found myself much more interested in the assembly and inflation process.
 As a photographer, I was also intrigued by the translucency of the balloons, which led to all kinds of tricky lighting situations. Faces illuminated by flames, balloons backlit by the setting sun...
The afternoon sessions had us lined up along a fence shooting straight into the sun. I learned a lot this weekend, oh yes I did.
The number one thing I learned, and it took a while, is walk around. Move!
I have a great zoom lens, and it makes me lazy. I can get shots from clear across the field.
 But to get the light where I wanted it, I had to actually walk around and try different vantage points.

Another thing I learned is that at 5am it can be seriously cold, even in August. I'm talking fleece and jackets and gloves sort of cold.

Also, note to self: if you've filled the 16MB memory card, you have enough photos.
There are a lot more photos of the balloons on my Flickr stream


  1. Happy belated birthday! Hot air balloons scare me :| They are pretty in photos though.

  2. Thanks for the great photos, if there's something pilots love, it's photos of our balloons.

  3. Fantastic photos, and I enjoyed reading your comments about Presque Isle!

  4. I love to watch the balloons and love to reminisce with the pictures.