It’s been a few weeks since the last blog post, due mainly to a wonderful trip to Canada. Before I start to process the 700 photos from there it’s time to share these with you, just ten photos from the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
In 2015 the Bristol Balloon Fiesta celebrated its 37th year, and although I used to live close by this was my first visit. The hot air balloons do an early morning and late afternoon ascent on each day, and wanting to guarantee good photos I opted to check the weather and head there for the afternoon and evening.
The weather was perfect for taking photos, but it drew in people in their masses. The Fiesta is a free event, and it got so busy that Bristol city centre became gridlocked and the organisers had to turn people away. I’d heard an estimate for 250,000 visitors, and it’s by far the most people I’ve ever seen in one place. It explains why it took me nearly three hours to get out of the car park after the event – I hope for better traffic management in 2016!
The afternoon ascent and gentle wind gave balloons the chance to take off and drift towards the city and Clifton Suspension Bridge. After sunset the night glow started – tethered balloons firing their burners to light up the sky. And to finish some fireworks.
I’d have liked to have gone up in a balloon to get some photos from the sky looking down but didn’t get the chance. When I was a child my father worked with someone who was on the team that flew Richard Branson and Per Linstrand on the first transatlantic hot air balloon flight in 1987. I had the chance to go in a hot air balloon with them, and at the last moment got scared and decided against it. A decision I rue to this day. I will fly in a hot air balloon one day!
A photo brimming with hot air balloons, all drifting towards Bristol city centre.
The balloons add even more colour to a beautiful blue sky.
Everyone loved the penguin balloons.
Bristol Balloons and Bailey Balloons are both based in Bristol and why it's so famous for ballooning.
Another big name in ballooning, Cameron Balloons.
I wasn't the only one taking photos of the balloons.
There were 250,000 people at the Fiesta, this photo shows how popular it was.
As the daylight fades, the night glow begins. Tethered balloons fire up to glow brightly.
I’d met Robert at Gadget Show Live earlier this year, and apart from being a thoroughly nice chap he knows all there is to know about the camera I have as he uses the same camera day-on-day-out as a wedding and portrait photographer. I learnt a few neat tricks from Robert along the way about quick access to menus, using small focus points, and he even showed how he accessed all the key menus using just two fingers whilst also using the viewfinder. It might take me a while to figure that out!
The group doing the walk started out from London Camera Exchange and walked to the market on Corn Street to start our photography, then through the city centre water features to the Watershed area, and onto @Bristol and the ice rink. We were out for two hours, and although it was a tad chilly and grey, everyone in the group really enjoyed themselves and learnt some new ideas.
Robert mentioned that the Olympus stand at Gadget Show Live in 2015 will be bigger than this year and he’ll be running some live sessions showing how photographers work from setting up lighting, photographing a model, through to printing the finished product.
Mid-November and Bristol had a ice rink, complete with penguins.
Dancing on ice isn't for everyone.
Using a shallow depth of field (low F number, large aperture) to introduce some blur makes for an artistic shot.
A personal hate of mine, love locks. Why spoil the natural beauty of a bridge.
Black and white can sometimes make things more interesting, like the geometric shapes on this concrete car park.
A Bristolian swan posing.
I took this photo at Rob Pugh's suggestion. Lots of lines converging and black and white to introduce the art.
An angry monkey sticker.
Rain on a bench, with the Colston Tower in the background.
Anyone who grew up in the UK probably did so with tales of Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne’s teddy bear with a thing for honey. I’m sure the stories have travelled far beyond the UK too. As well as the Winnie The Pooh stories, there’s game called Pooh Sticks… it’s a simple game where you drop sticks into a river from a bridge, and the one who’s stick flows first to the other side is the winner.
This was my third time at the Championships, and I’m glad to say that the weather was just right today for taking photos. Last years event was postponed due to snow, and the rescheduled event in November was nearly a wash out was it poured with rain.
I took along my camera and got the photographs you’ll see below. Some of the photos required a bit more risk than usual as I wanted to get photos from the bridges looking back at the competitors. I did this by mounting my camera on a monopod and holding it out at arms length over the water – nothing focusses the mind like several hundred pounds of camera dangling above a flowing river!
The monopod is actually one of the three legs from my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian, the leg cleverly screws off and I’m able to mount the tripod head on this leg to angle the camera. This is where a lightweight camera, lens, and tripod are a real benefit.
The next challenge was to take the photo. My Olympus E-M1 camera comes with a rather neat trick for this, built in wifi that allows you to control it using a mobile phone app. So I was able to beam the live view image from the camera to my phone, and press a button when I wanted to take the shot. I set the camera to take lots of photos in quick succession, which meant that hopefully one of the photos would be the one I wanted. As it happens, I ended up with 196 photos which I’ve narrowed down to the 9 best.
You might notice that some of the photos look a bit curved – this is because some were taken with my 7.5mm Samyang Fisheye lens. This lens allows me to cram a lot into a photo, and does curve things a little. It’s certainly one of my favourite lenses.
Pooh Sticks wouldn't be the same without Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.
Photo 1 of 3 - the coloured sticks get dropped by the competitors from the bridge.
Photo 2 of 3 - the sticks splash down in the river.
Photo 3 of 3 - the competitors rush to the other side of the bridge to watch their sticks approach the finish line.
The sticks aren't wasted - they're scooped up by some chaps in a boat to be re-used.
There's so many competitors that two bridges have to be used.
Under the sun and in the view of Wittenham Clumps, visitors enjoyed food and games.
Lots of concentration on the faces of competitors.