White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

46th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Part 6 of 6 - Evening Glow, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA



For nine days in early October, the beyond spectacular event known as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta unfolds in the mile-high city of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the southwestern United States. As many as 500+ balloons may participate daily at the Fiesta. It is the largest balloon gathering in the world and unimaginable in its size and scope.

The above image illustrates the evening glow event. On many nights of the nine-day Fiesta, the balloons remain tethered to the ground and demonstrate coordinated illuminations wherein each pilot fires his/her burners simultaneously. And what a sound that creates, hundreds of roaring fires of flaming gas - like giant blowtorches, lighting up the colorful, towering nylon envelopes. These are truly amazing moments.

This blog post is Part 6, my final post, of a multi-part series about my recent experience at the Balloon Fiesta and covers the last part of the evening glow event. Part 1 covered the pre-dawn activity. Part 2 covered the dawn activity. Part 3 covered the daytime morning activity. Part 4 covered some of the special shape balloons that participated in the event. Part 5 covered the first part of the evening glow event. Links to each post are provided at the bottom of this post.

(Click on an image to view a higher resolution version if your device supports that action).























The sun is gone, the sky is dark, the stars are twinkling - it's time to deflate and get ready for the laser show and fireworks which follow.



As the last few balloons deflate, the laser show begins, and I slowly walk toward the exit taking mental stock of what a grand and inspired experience and place this event has been.

The stated purpose in the masthead of this blog is that it is about " beautiful and/or interesting sights in our world." The 46th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta certainly met that goal and more by demonstrating beauty, grace, drama, and eloquence - these huge droplet shaped dreams floating along on the breeze or tethered in place - simply stunning -  the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was bigger, better, and more beautiful than I could imagine in a setting of natural grandeur in the American Southwest - the storied land of open spaces, warmth and sunshine, cowboys and Native Americans, cactus and canyons.

Definitely a "bucket list" life event.

The sheer scale of this event - spread out over 78 bustling acres with hundreds of 70+ feet tall balloons changing colors as blasts of fiery air briefly illuminate them from within like exploding super novas all against the backdrop of a 10,000-foot mountain range. (See my first post on the pre-dawn images). The Fiesta provided wonderful views of natural beauty and man-made beauty all in the context of great drama!

Note to photographers: all my images in these six blog posts were made with a Sony RX100M2 point and shoot camera.  Imagine what a full-frame, tripod mounted, HDR-enabled, top quality glass camera would/could have created. You should come next year and see if you are up to the photographic challenge to surpass this point-and-shooter's results!

Links to my other blogs on this event:

Post 1 - Pre-dawn
Post 2 - Dawn
Post 3 - Daytime
Post 4 - Special Shapes
Post 5 - Evening Glow


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

46th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Part 5 of 6 - Evening Glow, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA



For nine days in early October, the spectacular event known as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta unfolds in the mile-high city of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the southwestern United States. As many as 500+ balloons may participate daily at the Fiesta. It is the largest balloon gathering in the world.

This image illustrates the evening glow event. On many nights of the nine-day Fiesta, the balloons remain on the ground and demonstrate coordinated illuminations wherein each pilot fires his/her burners simultaneously. It is quite a visual and auditory spectacle and very well attended!

This blog post is Part 5 of a multi-part series about my recent experience at the Fiesta and covers the first part of the evening glow event. Part 1 covered the pre-dawn activity. Part 2 covered the dawn activity. Part 3 covered the daytime morning activity. Part 4 covered some of the special shape balloons that participated in the event.

(Click on an image to view a higher resolution version if your device supports that action).



The crowd begins gathering in the late afternoon light at Fiesta Park. The 10,000 feet high Sandia mountains at right tower over the valley. (Panorama, click to view full width).



After the sun has set, the balloons are unfurled on the ground and the inflation process begins.



A quick blast of flame to check the burners are functioning properly.



The balloon and basket are lying on their sides and inflation is underway. A cooperative pilot poses for a budding young photographer.



A warming blast of flame heats the air inside the envelope and raises the balloon off the ground into a vertical position.



They are incredibly beautiful against the darkening sky with their colorful and ethereal glow.



Getting the timing right when multiple balloons were igniting without over-exposing the image was often elusive to me.



Imagine the sound that accompanies this blast of flaming fuel.











This is almost the same as the previous image except a different balloon is illuminating.



I count twenty simultaneous lightings including the small distant ones.



I can still imagine hearing the thunderous roar of the burners during the coordinated glow, all firing simultaneously.  It is a thrilling moment to be here for this show!

Only one more blog post about this event - stay tuned soon!


Monday, October 16, 2017

46th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Part 4 of 6 - Special Shapes, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA



For nine days in early October, the spectacular event known as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta unfolds in the mile-high city of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the southwestern United States. As many as 500 balloons may participate in this ritual every morning at the Fiesta. It is the largest balloon gathering in the world.

This blog post is Part 4 of a multi-part series about my recent experience there and covers some of the special shape balloons that participated in the event. Part 1 covered the pre-dawn activity. Part 2 covered the dawn activity. Part 3 covered the daytime morning activity.

While I certainly didn't photograph anywhere near the 100 special shapes at this year's Fiesta, here are a few I did see and enjoy - starting with the Star Wars character, "Yoda," shown in the above image.

(Click on an image to view a higher resolution version if your device supports that action).



Since Yoda is here, Darth Vader isn't far behind.



























It is fascinating what the creative minds of balloon designers can come up with.

Check back in soon - I have two more blog posts covering the evening glow yet to be published - and they have some great images!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

46th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Part 3 of 6 - Daytime, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA



For nine days in early October, the spectacular event known as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta unfolds in the mile-high city of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the southwestern United States. As many as 500 balloons may participate in this ritual every morning at the Fiesta. It is the largest balloon gathering in the world.

This blog post is Part 3 of a multi-part series about my recent experience there and covers the daytime as sunlight flooded the Fiesta grounds. Part 1 covered the pre-dawn activity. Part 2 covered the dawn activity.

(Click on an image to view a higher resolution version if your device supports that action).



The sun pops over the top of the nearby Sandia mountains and begins to bathe the launch field in light, warmth, and anticipation among the crowd.



With the increasing light, more and more balloon crews are readying their ships for flight.

It surprises me in a very pleasant way that spectators are permitted to roam relatively freely among the operational flight area. Somehow, I can't imagine the East coast mentality where I live allowing that to occur - they would more than likely cordon off the area in the name of safety and security, prohibit spectators, station guards and law enforcement everywhere, and generally suck much of the fun and excitement out of the experience. Kudos to the organizers for truly creating and facilitating an extraordinary spectator experience - the largest event of its kind in the world.



I hope you enjoy these images - and yes, I have included way too many of them - scroll quickly.







































Often, a crew member holds a tether line to help keep the envelope in place as it is inflated.



















It is a big field at Fiesta Park where this event is held - about 78 acres - roughly the size of 56 American football fields. My dilemma is where to locate myself for the "perfect" viewing and photography angle. I decided to keep the bright sun at my back, pay attention to the wind direction and which way the balloons would drift after launch (wind in excess of 10-knots shuts down the launch activity at the Fiesta), where the media tent was located, where the television stations set-up, and where the sponsor tents were located. Based on all that I chose my general area to hang out - but, there was so much happening elsewhere across the field, I could barely stay put. I just couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to be everywhere at once and missing something better elsewhere.



Perhaps I should have taken a ride/flight.  That would have kept me stationary in a basket. Like this young passenger who is ready to fly.....



.....and off she goes......



.....into the wild blue yonder!











Another flight crew awaiting clearance from a launch director/zebra.



Clearance to launch given, off they go.



I think the designer of the green ship at right above,  had a challenge on how/where to attach the basket.



Designs seem limited only by the imagination (and budget).



At right, the merchandise vendors were selling miniature plastic balloons of many shapes and sizes, here, juxtaposed with the real things.



The television/videographers had a nice fixed ringside platform from which to film the event. Me, I'd rather be roaming the grounds.







One of ten gazillion selfies and portraits I saw being made over the course of the morning.



This flight director/zebra clears the launch path of spectators.



He gives the pilot the thumbs-up to proceed.



Then offers a good-bye salute.



The crowd wasn't the only happy people here today.  The launch directors/zebras were having as much fun as anybody!







If you look closely at this basket, you'll note it isn't a basket but rather......



..... more of a porch swing kind of seat.  I wish I had made a close-up picture. This image is a grainy enlargement from the previous one just to give you an idea.  I think personally that I would much prefer this kind of flight than the basket version - fewer obstructions to vision as I am flying along looking around. Food for thought for next time........although one might get wet feet doing a touch and go on the Rio Grande in this style seat.



As the day progressed, I have never seen so many sustained smiling faces gathered together in my life. There are really a lot of people here - tens of thousands - and they are really happy to be here. It is a magical and magnificent spectacle to see and feel and be a part of. I talked to a couple New Mexico State Police officers on duty who both confirmed my observation that this is a remarkably friendly, happy, safe, and crime-free event.

I also met and  talked with one 84-year old man who has been coming for the past 41 years. That's devotion.



But all good things must end and the morning is drawing to a close, the last few balloons are about to launch, the crowd has thinned, many folks are heading home to rest before returning for the evening events.  

My acknowledgement to the 165 sponsors, the 550 registered pilots including participants from 23 other countries, and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who make all this possible.  

By the way, an "average" balloon is about 70 feet tall and uses about 30 gallons of propane a day for the Fiesta events. Considering the humble beginning of ballooning in the 1780's in France, this event in Albuquerque brings in more than 177 million dollars of economic impact to the area (2015 data). Quite an evolution.

Check back in again soon - a few more blogs to come!