Even before I started photographing things, I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. Finally able to this past weekend, in Galena, Illinois, courtesy of Galena On The Fly. I had around two weeks to prepare for the experience, but didn’t really think all that much about it. A number of people I told about it said “better you than me”, and similar things, as they’re afraid of heights, or just wouldn’t feel comfortable with… ya know… being in a giant picnic basket attached to a balloon, traveling through use of fire.
We lifted off the ground at about 6:45 am, just before the sun was coming up. As we ascended, we cleared one of the lodge buildings at Eagle Ridge, right when they happened to be cooking the bacon… and all 12 of us in the basket started to get hungry. The smell was overpowering; but not as much as the view.
Watching the sunrise is a good enough experience, but watching it in a hot air balloon, drifting slowly and quietly over the trees, river, and golf course, is breathtaking. Okay, so it’s not “quiet” when our Balloon Master, Andy, fired up the flames – that sounded more like a shotgun… but still, the view was incredible.
It could not have been a better day for the ride. It wasn’t too hot, or too cold, no clouds, great sunrise. It was a little crowded, but it worked out. Though if you do it, I suggest not bringing very much. I had my 7D and my 35L lens, but I brought along one of my little Lowepro bags with a spare batter and memory card (you never know) and my 28mm f/1.8 lens in case I wanted a slightly wider angle. The bag is small, but proved to be too bulky in the cramped quarters. Car had her Nikon point-and-shoot, along with Radix (the nickname of our FujiFilm Instax 210 instant film camera). During the trip we saw numerous deer and turkeys, along with some pedestrians just staring up at us. Here are some of the shots from the Happy Ballooning experience: