Hey everybody ! I'll be at The Kentucky Derby hot air balloon glow this coming Fri night and I'd like some tips on making proper exposures of the lighted balloons at night. The background will be dark in most cases and occaisionally I will have multiple balloons as subjects. The ballons are tethered and only lift off as far as the ropes holding them will let them. I don't THINK motion will be a problem, but I should handle that ok. I'd love to hear from any forum members that have experience with this. Equipment as follows : Nikon F100
Nikon 28-80 3.5
Nikon 80-200 2.8 AF-S
Bogen tripod and monopod
Fuji Sensia 100 slide AND.......
Fuji Reala 100 print
Fuji Superia 400 in case there is a wind moving the balloons around and there is more motion than I anticipated.
QUESTION ; HOW SHOULD I METER FOR PROPER EXPOSURE ? SHOULD I USE SPOT METERING ON THE LIGHTED BALLOONS? I think a light meter might be a problem with the burners going off so close so I'll have to use in camera metering.
Any suggestions or practical experience would be mosr helpful.
I think debacle would describe my experience best. I was hoping no one would bring this back up. I failed to realize just how many people would be crowded around as I tried to get a shot.
When my tripod wasn't being kicked there were so many people gathered around that the foreground was always cluttered. Then when I had a clearing I had to make a spot meter of the balloons light and guesstimate the exposure, the pilots would shut their burners off while I was trying to focus. The clean shots I did get were improperly exposed because, get this, I HAD SELECTED MATRIX METERING BY MISTAKE AND DID NOT SEE THIS UNTIL I WAS PUTTING MY GEAR BACK IN THE CAR.
It was frustrating to say the least.
I didn't get anything worth keeping
Thank you so much for resuscitating this thread,mik. It brought back a lot of memories, all bad!
I guess on a positive note this can be used as a textbook example to everyone of the five P's :
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Planning.
Please, Lets bury this thread back into the archives where it belongs !
I reguarly attend the Balloon Classic here in Colorado Springs, and every few years the big Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. My experience with the night "glows" is much the same. Too many people stumbling around in the dark tripping over you and your gear, and I have found that the balloons don't always stay lit long enough to meter, compose and then shoot.
LOL, sorry Jim. But if you were forced to do it again you would go w/ spot metering? Would you use 800 iso film? Would you expect that you'd be able to handhold? And finally what length lens were you using? mik
I would take a bottle of wine, get a sitter for my daughter, take my wife, leave the mother in law at home, take a loaf of italian bread and buy a souvenir picture from one of the launch teams.
Just kidding........sort of.
Yes, I would spot meter and take a small Mag Light and check my settings. I would also reconoiter a high vantage point and stake it out before hand. I would stick with 400 iso cause I'm shooting with a tripod anyway.
I would take both a 28-105 and an 80-200 2.8
This year I'll have my 300 2.8 so I can get in tight and pick my targets out individually. along with the wide angle.
As I said before, PPPPP.
I did learn a lot such as where the vantage points are and to check the wind drift.
The most important thing to remember is where the "HOOTERS" balloon team is.
They have a rather large balloon race here in St. Louis near Labor day. The morning of the race there is always a 1 hour window when the crews are filling their balloons that they open the field to photographers. This is usually sponsored by one of the major film players.
They have a balloon glow, but I have never tried to photograph anything. The one time I did go to try and photograph, it was all I could do to get to the park! Then it was 1 hour of traffic with all the people who came for the "drive by". This works really well with the thousands of people drinking and walking in the street!
Too bad you weren't able to get any shots, Jim. It would have been cool to see a good glow shot that didn't come with and advertisement on it.