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.
Sometimes it’s hard to find inspiration for photography. Sometimes it’s easy, especially when someone does the most of the work for you. That’s what happened with Shaun in the City. Lots of interesting photography subjects, many with people willingly posing for photos, and even a map to guide you to the subjects!
Shaun in the City is a charity art trail in Bristol. It’s organised by Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation to raise money to support children in hospitals across the UK. The trail features Shaun the Sheep, a character from a TV series and movie by Bristol-based Aardman Animations. There’s a flock of 70 Shaun’s across the city, each one sporting a different pattern.
The trail is on until the end of August and if you do it then I’d recommend you use the mobile phone app to find your way around. It’s a small cost, but gives a map to find where the Shaun’s are and gives you a little reward each time you register one! I won’t give too much away but it really adds fun to the experience. Just remember to turn your volume right up.
I spent a couple of hours walking around the city centre area of Bristol and managed to see fourteen Shaun’s. Just ten of them are featured below.
Bagpuss Shaun, at the Cabot Circus shopping centre.
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.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to switch off from some recent stressful events for a few hours and head to Bristol Zoo. The Zoo is home to a variety of animals in a relaxed and quite spacious area. It’s hard to pick a favourite animal, but the red pandas, meerkats, gorillas, all seemed to be popular on the day.
The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great, but luckily it was wrong and I was treated to sun for most of the day. This meant that most of the photos I got were better than expected. For photos where the animal was behind glass I used my Lens Skirt to cut out the reflections.
The Twilight World section doesn’t allow flash photography, so I decided to play with the camera settings see what I could capture in the dark. Hand-holding the camera I was relying on built-in image stabilisation along with appropriate manual settings (ISO of 25600, speed no slower than 1/60 second, and maximum aperture) to get the best photos possible using the display screen rather than viewfinder. It’s fair to say that low light photography is challenging, and it’s one area where I expect cameras to improve in the future. But the photo of the slow loris below is pretty impressive given how dark it was. Someone walked past as I was taking photos and commented “That guy’s got a night vision camera”.
I was lucky to catch a couple who'd just got married, standing in front of a water tank to give them amazing back lighting.
A very forlorn looking lion.
Looking straight up, I caught a gorilla looking down on me.
How do you get coax a lemur onto scales to be weighed? With food of course.
A monkey gives me sad eyes.
A meerkat looks bemused at children spying on it from a pod.
What are you looking at?
A naked mole rat, one of my favourite animals.
A bat tries to hide from the daylight to get some sleep.
A slow loris photographed in almost total darkness, showing how good modern cameras are at capturing light.