Our friend, Karen Dodge, from Chinquapin Hill Farm asked if we knew about the Pittsfield Balloon Festival — we did not. We were heading up to Maine for the weekend and thought it would be good idea to check it out (well, except for the getting up at 4am part of the plan).
The ballons “lift off” at 8am, so there’s really no opportunity for real early morning light. And for our initial visit to this event, there was a rather thick haze that never really burned off for a few hours. This made for photos with rather flat lighting and with no real sense of drama from the mists and haze that would be interesting if it was a little thicker.
The balloons launch from a field adjacent to the Suncook River, which flows lazily through the fairgrounds. While the haze had less than wonderful lighting conditions, the near dead calm allowed for some remarkable collections of balloons in the air and pilots showing off their expertise by dipping the base of the baskets in the river. I think the more typical launch would have the balloons drifting off into the distance as the morning breezes start to kick up.
A bridge over the river is filled with photographers all hunting for that perfect combination of morning light, colorful balloons, and reflections in the water. While we were only there for the morning launch, apparently they do some events in the evening with the propane jets lighting up the envelopes.
I didn’t come away from the morning with any special images, but we’ll definitely give it a more serious look next year — perhaps from the kayaks on the river.