Early last Sunday morning I peered at my clock with one bleary eye ….6:09 AM. From a very sound sleep why had woken up? It was quiet after all. I could hear the birds singing. And then it hit me. It was quiet. For the first time in 48 hours my neighbour’s air conditioner was not grinding away. Through rain, cool weather and during the night it had droned on relentlessly. Now it was quiet. Finally!
Another sound caught my attention. Both eyes opened. As if from the mouth of a dragon, bursts of roaring air somewhere close by intermittently broke the early morning quietness. Curious, I arose and went outside. Could it be a hot air balloon passing low overhead?
The hot air balloon was not overhead. It was just across the park from our townhome being prepared for an early morning flight. Quickly, I changed, grabbed my camera and walked quickly across the park. I needed to find a good place to view the balloon before it lifted off.
I knew I didn’t have much time to photograph the balloon. My camera was set in shutter priority for my sports shooting. After a few shots and before the balloon’s lift off I quickly switched to aperture priority to better control the depth of field. With the ISO at 400 I set the shutter speed at 640th of a second and the aperture at f8. This combination would enable me to capture sharp, handheld images.
The sun had not been up for very long. It beautifully lit the multi coloured panels of the balloon. Its colours were radiant. In quick succession, the crew ignited a series of blasts from the propane burner to completely fill the balloon with hot air. Straining at its tethers it seemed to be struggling to free itself from the ground.
On an unseen signal the tethers were dropped and the burners roared to life. The balloon smoothly lifted into the sky. It rose quickly for several seconds then all was quiet. With the burners off I could clearly hear the balloon’s passengers expressing their joy as the landscape unfolded before them. Short blasts from the burner kept the balloon rising. Reaching its flight level and it was carried off to the northwest on the early morning breezes.
While I was happy with my images Sunday morning I was really pleased with my readiness to shoot and my ability to change camera settings on the fly without confusion and indecision.
Oh, and by the way, I was only shooting for 10 minutes. By the time I returned home my neighbour’s air conditioner was again grinding away. Small mercies!!