How to Take Awe-Inspiring Hot Air Balloon Pictures (10 Tips & Examples)
Places like Turkey, Myanmar, and New Mexico have made hot air balloon rides and festivals a bucket list-worthy item. The contrast of the vibrant balloons against the color in the sky makes for a picturesque scene, almost like it’s out of a movie. If you are interested in hot air balloon photography, then you know that great pictures do not happen by chance. You need to invest time and energy into every shot. To help you out, here are 10 tips for taking better hot air balloon pictures.
1. Arrive as Early as Possible
Most hot air balloon rides take place at sunrise or sunset because these are the best views landscape has to offer. Scout out important launches and plan your arrival. In general, you want to arrive early at the launch. This way, you can move around to find the spot you like best. You will have time to get set up and prepare your equipment. You might also want to talk to some of the pilots or volunteers. They might be able to give you tips about the best vantage points.
2. Document the Whole Event
By the time a balloon gets in the air, your window for good photography will start to close quickly. However, even on the ground, hot air balloons are quite spectacular. Before the launch, there will be much work done. The balloon has to be unrolled, and the basket must be attached. The burners will be checked, and the process of filling the balloon with air takes time. There are plenty of opportunities for good shots, and the variety of hot air balloon pictures will help you tell your story better.
3. Get Closer for Better Hot Air Balloon Pictures
Hot air balloons are large, but too many photographs are from far away. You want to get as close as you can. Let the balloon fill your frame, and use the artistic quality of the balloon to define your shot. These photos will be more abstract, but if you create a portfolio, the distinction will be very effective. As you get close to the action, you can also leverage the human element. Take close shots of the crew and volunteers. You can showcase their faces and bring new life to your hot air balloon photography by being close.
4. Frame In Advance
Hot air balloons are moving targets, but they are slow. This gives you time to really think your shots through. Therefore, do your framing in advance. With this style of photography, you should be able to frame the shot first. Then, you can wait for the balloon to come into frame. With the leisurely pace of the balloon, you should have plenty of time to secure your perfect shot.
5. Include Other Elements
You can help your pictures stand out by creating juxtaposition with other elements or points of interest. These elements could include iconic buildings, distinctive landscapes, or people. For example, you could try to frame your shot to include a beautiful, old tree. Other shots might showcase a backdrop of the mountains. Using known landmarks can ground your photography, and it can make your shots more memorable.
6. Change Your Perspective
If you enjoy hot air balloons, then do your research. Study the way other shots are framed. Identify the most common perspectives. Then, as your skills and experience increase, start to look for new angles. If you want your photographs to stand out, then you will need to think outside the box. By capturing a different perspective, you will be able to create something alluring and new.
7. Identify Your Key Shot
While you will want to take a lot of pictures from different angles, you should go in with your perfect shot in mind. In other words, you want to identify your best angle, location, and lighting before you even start taking pictures. The goal is to capture that one picture that will stand out from all the rest. These shots can happen spontaneously, but they can also happen with diligent preparation. Be prepared either way.
8. Use Elevation
Hot air balloons always go up, which can limit your photography options unless you are prepared. If you want to capture some truly unusual shots, you can also try to use elevation in your pictures. In some cases, you may be able to find high ground. However, you can also secure yourself a spot on one of the balloons to get your shot from the air. Obviously, you have to plan for this early, but it can be a worthwhile tactic.
9. Know Your Camera Settings for Hot Air Balloon Pictures
Camera settings are always variable and open to creative interpretation. You have to consider the weather, lighting, elevation, and more. At night, you will need to increase your shutter speed to keep your images in focus. You can compensate by raising your ISO level in the dark with handheld photography. The problem with too much ISO is that it increases the noise in your photos, which means you have to find the right balance. If you are trying to capture the balloon in flight, then you will want a faster shutter speed to capture the moments with clarity.
10. Stay Safe
Hot air balloons are beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. Always take measures to protect yourself and others. As you move around, do not step on the balloon fabrics or move the ropes. Never go inside the balloon or get close to the burners. If you board the balloon, secure your valuables and do not lean outside the basket or get in the way of the pilot. Capturing the perfect shot is important, but it is never more important than your life.