Oh my goodness, it has been almost two weeks since the Telluride Balloon Festival, and I still hadn't made this blog post. Things have been hectic for me personally. I won't write about my issues here right now since the goal of this post is to share my experiences at the balloon festival. It's 12:34 a.m. Thursday morning... might as well write! Please excuse my poor writing, I'm tired!
The Telluride Balloon Festival took place from June 1st to 3rd in beautiful Telluride, Colorado. I took one of the last camping spots (first come, first served), the Thursday prior, at the town park campground just for this festival. If you're here just for the pictures, scroll on down. But, read on if you want a little more story.
For those aware of Colorado's warm winter... yes, the drought in south western Colorado is pretty bad. The green foliage may not show much of a drought but, look to the lakes, and you will see very low water lines.
June 1st was the school demonstration day when a couple of pilots brought their balloons to the nearby elementary school. Two small groups of fifth grade students came out to learn a little bit about ballooning. I was honestly expecting a larger crowd but, whatever, the small groups allowed for more hands-on opportunities for the students.
I particularly helped out Jeff Johnson, pilot of the balloon Kemo Sabe, setup for his demonstrations and took some photos during his lesson. Photographer Paul D deBerjeois was also present taking photographs of the demonstrations. Click on Paul's name to see his website. He does great work!
Saturday was the first day (and the only) of the mass ascensions. I crewed for Jeff Johnson again here, and we were able to get his balloon off. Where are the pictures of this mass ascension? Well, uh, yeah. I didn't take any. Being in a valley, sunlight does not touch the valley floor until much later after sunrise. What does this mean for photos? Very flat photos until the sunlight reaches the bottom. I don't know about you guys but, colorful balloons in shadow look rather boring to me.
The sunlight will eventually reach the bottom though so this wouldn't be an issue in the grand scheme. However, the winds reversed unfavorably sending the balloons towards the mountainside. Seeing this shift in winds, pilots on the ground chose to stay grounded. In the end, only six balloons took off.
The unfavorable shift in winds did lead to an incident, pictured above, to where a balloon ended up in a bad place. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the balloon and the pilot name here. So... what happened here was that the balloon was flying in a bad direction up the mountainside. If they were to land up there, an expensive helicopter would have to be hired to retrieve the balloon. The pilot obviously wasn't going to foot the bill on that so he literally grabbed a treetop, and stopped the balloon from moving any further away from town.
The pilot did good by stopping the balloon. But now they were stuck, and needed help getting to a safe landing zone. I was one of the first ones to respond to the call for help. Soon there would be many more coming to help.
Truth be told, there was a bit of conflict in communication. There was a lady that proved to be more disruptive than helpful. She leveraged her experience as crew to be our unofficial leader. Whenever someone would question her logic or interpretations, she would yell at them and say that they were wrong. Like, what? There were many times when some of us felt like she was contradicting what the pilot was ordering. And, indeed, she was. But, once again, she assumed the role of "leader", and the others followed. There really wasn't much reason for the others to question her.
I ended up slipping, and bumping my knee against a rock. That took me out of the rescue operation. I was also one of the reported "minor injuries" because I literally fell right in front of the police and fire fighters. Yeah, they're going to report that especially since I cried out, "Ouch!"
In the end the balloon came down but it had six large tears. The balloon certainly wasn't going to fly again without reparations. For those curious about reparations, the balloon envelopes are made by panels which makes it easy to repair down the line. Simply remove the damaged panels and put new ones in. Some balloons, such as hand painted ones, would need to be concerned about reparations. While their balloon would be repaired, it will never look the same again.
Following the mass ascension that morning was a photography workshop lead by photographer Paul D deBerjeois. It was more-or-less a beginners' workshop introducing new camera users to the features on their cameras with a heavy emphasis on night photography for the upcoming balloon glow. Paul did have many photos to show though so that was nice.
Proper photography is gaining momentum. This workshop allegedly had its largest attendance record. Smart phones, point-and-shoots, bridge cameras, ILC's, etc, it doesn't matter what they're using. People are wanting to learn how to use their devices to produce better images.
On the same Saturday was the balloon glow. Ten balloons were setup throughout the main street of downtown Telluride. I didn't need to crew for anybody so I was free to roam about and get my shots.
I wish that I had brought my Tamron 15-30mm lens because 24mm wasn't quite wide enough for some of the shots I wanted. This isn't to say that super wide angle is superior for balloon glows but, 24mm couldn't really capture the downtown scene with the balloons. Nevertheless I still tried my best to capture compelling scenes to share with y'all.
Okay, it's 1:39 a.m. and I'm flippin' tired. Sunday? Nothing happened. Bad weather. That's the end of my story in Telluride! I ain't proofreading so I hope that this turns out alright.