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Photography from a hot air balloon

hooferinsane

EXIF Seeker
Super Moderator
Well as our ‘boss’ has owned the business for 20 years, she is treating us to a free (ie she is picking up the tab that is) hot air balloon trip next month. The planned start is about 5.00pm although this could be later. Not sure if it would even be around sunset. Not ever having taken photos from that height before (indeed I am not sure how high they go) just wondering if anyone has ever done photography from a balloon. Am going to take a mirrorless fuji and 12mm Samyang manual focus lens, which generally if you set it to infinity everything over 1m is in sharp focus. Anyone done this? What were your results like? Did you do anything special, perhaps filters?Although it should be past the full glare of the sun, being that high, not sure if there is any risk to the sensor either.
Edit: btw it will be myself as the only male with 16 females :eek:
 

Minor Problem

Always on
Premium Member
Done it twice and found the 24-70 a good option for full frame. An 18mm equivalent will work ok for shots including people in the basket but shots of the ground will look so far away they may not work very well as any individual focal point will look tiny.
 

MikeB

Always on
Premium Member
Very strange experience. Because you go with the wind, it seems that the air is completely still until you realize that you're moving along at a good clip. You'll have plenty of opportunities for some great shots, be sure to get some shots with the burners and the balloon above it. I agree with @Minor Problem, the 12mm seems a little wide to me for the landscapes, you might consider taking 2 lenses.
 

JAH-WAR

Always on
Premium Member
Sod that, not for love nor money would you get me to take to the sky’s in a bag of warm air. Good luck!!!!
 

Snips

Always on
Enjoy - they frequently fly around here. For my part I'd take the longest lens I have.
 

Petrochemist

Always on
I've never been up in a balloon, but I've done some shooting from light aircraft which often run at similar heights. For the scenic shots my most successful where all with much longer focal lengths, those I have on Flickr were all 100mm on APSC (taken 8 years ago, as sadly my brother sold his hares in the plane & moved to France).
I know of other shots since (after I'd reached Flickr's old 200 shot limit) where I was photographing single properties where longer lenses still were wanted. Focus from cruising heights is not really an issue the ground is all effectively at infinity. I'd expect the balloon to be mainly between 200' & 500' altitude, but most of your shots will be at an good angle (30-60°?).

You'll certainly want shots including the balloon & passengers as well, and something like your 12mm would certainly work for those, but I'd be inclined to go longer even so something around a 28mm should be OK for DOF & showing people against the view.
Changing lenses while airborne can be tricky, & disastrous if you drop a lens! So I'd suggest 2 cameras, one with something of similar FOV to Barry's suggestion (isn't that ~18-55 in APSC?), and one with a 100-300+ or similar. Having the two allows a bit more flexibility in the actual focal lengths you take.

Have a great time, & I hope you don't suffer from endless cancelations.
 
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hooferinsane

EXIF Seeker
Super Moderator
Thanks all for the input, unfortunately it seems that cancellations do happen quite frequently. Two cameras could be a good idea, but should also think about the others that will be in the balloon too. Some of the girls already are a bit panicky :rolleyes:. I will also have to check if there are any restrictions of what can be taken in the basket, so may end up with just one cam and lens. Certainly I wouldn't contemplate trying to change lenses.
 

MikeB

Always on
Premium Member
The operators will often cancel for many reasons including wind direction as the pick up vehicle has to easily get to your final location. It is a unique experience and one I highly recommend but to be honest, once you are in the basket and away there is less excitement than riding in a car on a smooth road. The views are amazing, but because there is no sense of movement a bit surreal - like standing in your living room with 3-D VR goggles.
 

pauln

Always on
Never done it myself nor would I want to because I hate heights but the only thing I'd suggest is a bloody good strap especially if you plan on leaning over and taking any shots ;) hope you have a great time, look forward to seeing the results
 

kayak

Always on
Well as our ‘boss’ has owned the business for 20 years, she is treating us to a free (ie she is picking up the tab that is) hot air balloon trip next month. The planned start is about 5.00pm although this could be later. Not sure if it would even be around sunset. Not ever having taken photos from that height before (indeed I am not sure how high they go) just wondering if anyone has ever done photography from a balloon. Am going to take a mirrorless fuji and 12mm Samyang manual focus lens, which generally if you set it to infinity everything over 1m is in sharp focus. Anyone done this? What were your results like? Did you do anything special, perhaps filters?Although it should be past the full glare of the sun, being that high, not sure if there is any risk to the sensor either.
Edit: btw it will be myself as the only male with 16 females :eek:

That's a big basket, hope there's room for the pilot. ;) You'll probably fly at around 2,000ft or so, but it will be smooth as you travel at the same speed as the wind. Camera bag with lenses should be fine just don't drop anything over the side. Secure everything when you land as basket can sometimes go on its side. Basket should be split into sections to distribute the weight of people evenly and keep it level. Have a great trip!
 

kayak

Always on
The operators will often cancel for many reasons including wind direction as the pick up vehicle has to easily get to your final location. It is a unique experience and one I highly recommend but to be honest, once you are in the basket and away there is less excitement than riding in a car on a smooth road. The views are amazing, but because there is no sense of movement a bit surreal - like standing in your living room with 3-D VR goggles.

Yes they do cancel. Sometimes ground conditions look great but it depends on wind speed & direction at altitude. Champagne is often served in proper glasses at 2000ft which I thought was a bit risky. :blurry-drunk::swoon:
 

Hatter

Always on
Premium Member
I've never been up in one but I photographed one taking off once and the set of photos won the "Quartet" competition at my camera club.
Quartet_Winner.jpg
 

Isac

Always on
It does look fun and I love the POV of the photos. Good work kayak (and congrats Gareth!) It does sound like a lot of hot air to me though (just kidding) :)
 

Petrochemist

Always on
Thanks all for the input, unfortunately it seems that cancellations do happen quite frequently. Two cameras could be a good idea, but should also think about the others that will be in the balloon too. Some of the girls already are a bit panicky :rolleyes:. I will also have to check if there are any restrictions of what can be taken in the basket, so may end up with just one cam and lens. Certainly I wouldn't contemplate trying to change lenses.
You could always use your phone for the wider shots, I doubt there'll be an issues with bring that with you too. :)
 

kayak

Always on
It does look fun and I love the POV of the photos. Good work kayak (and congrats Gareth!) It does sound like a lot of hot air to me though (just kidding) :)
You'll be amazed how much you can hear from 2000ft. Dogs barking and people talking in their gardens. ;)When they see you they wave and shout but they really don't need to shout.
It's worth doing at least once in your life but only in countries with good safety standards.
 

Skyshot

Active Member
Having spent a lot of my life flying just about everything I could get my hands on, this would be my advice: :)

I'd recommend you take two cameras; one with a 10/12mm for pictures of the group in flight (plus pics of the burners and the envelope) and the other with something like an 18-200 or thereabouts for the rest (you don't want to be changing lenses during the flight). A polarising filter may be a consideration too as well as spare cards if you use small ones (you'll probably take LOTS of pictures).

Be sure to have a secure strap (with a back-up cord attached to YOU) - even a small lens falling out and hitting someone/something on the ground will do tremendous damage or kill. If you've got a belt holster/s I'd recommend using it/them. Also, (I know they're horrible things), but it might be worth picking up a couple of lens cap retaining cords or don't bother with lens caps at all.

Make sure you have a lens cloth in your pocket as condensation can be a problem with changing altitudes (not that you'll go much higher than a couple of thousand feet as has been said) and early or late in the day. Also a rain/dust cover for each camera because a lot of debris like dust and sand can get into the basket on landing and will fall out again on take off as the wicker expands/spreads under load (the condensation will stick this to your kit). Batteries may not perform as well if it's cold (as I'm sure you know) so make sure you have a spare in your pocket.

Only take a small camera bag (for landing) as space is very tight in the basket and as landings can quite often be bumpy, the basket will roll over if you are dragged (very common) so you want to make sure your kit is safe.

Temperature drops at around 3 degrees C per 1000 feet, so take a fleece or warm jacket unless it's very warm. Also a tight fitting cap or beanie type hat if you're tall or bald as the heat from the burners can be quite intense. :eek:

Arrange with the pilot so you can be first out of the basket after landing so you can get pictures of everyone getting out and the ground crew collapsing the canopy once the pilot has everything under control. You can't just jump out once you're down as that could put the balloon back in flight (you're ballast remember), so you HAVE to wait for the pilot's say so.

You'll love it - it's a very majestic way to fly.

Enjoy.


Trevor
 
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hooferinsane

EXIF Seeker
Super Moderator
Well waiting for the all go which will come at 2.00pm today, for a 5.30 trip. Just looked at the wind speed in Tonbridge, near the location where the balloon trip is taking place, wind speed is 8mph there, maximum safe wind speed is 8-10 apparently for ballooning , so here's hoping :)
 

Skyshot

Active Member
Good luck - I've just looked at the forecast and it is giving light winds for early morning.

It's a very unstable airmass at the moment though, so as soon as the sun comes up a few degrees the wind will pick up and it will be very gusty.

I'd prepare for disappointment I think. :(

Hopefully, I'm wrong - so good luck. :thumbsup:
 
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