This past Labor Day weekend was the Labor Day Liftoff in Colorado Springs. For you old-timers, this was formally known as the Colorado Springs Classic. Things have changed though, and this was the fourth year as the Labor Day Liftoff.
To sum up my photography experience during this festival, it was: cloudy. Personally, I have a very difficult time photographing balloon festivals when it's cloudy. Good light is obscured, the sky gets blown out way too easily, and the balloon colors are dulled. In scenarios like this, it's always good to have a backup plan. For me, while it wasn't a photography related plan, I planned on crewing for "Vacation" piloted by Janet who I had previously met at the Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta. Had it not been me being occupied with crewing, I think my overall experience would have been poor since I wasn't getting the photos I wanted.
If I were to come up with a photography related backup plan, it would be to bring a friend, or a model if you have the resources, and have a portrait session. The soft light provided by the cloudy skies would have been ideal for portraits, and also gives a bit of freedom around the balloons since the light is kind of everywhere rather than directional. The dulled balloon colors may be a concerned for portraits, however, the faded look is kind of all the rage right now so it should work out alright.
I really enjoy crewing for Janet but, it was just not her weekend. Two separate tears in her balloon stopped things quickly, and her truck battery giving out; she didn't get to fly at all. Her next event is going to be at White Sands National Monument later this month, and I plan on attending that festival as well. Hope to see her flying again soon.
In addition to meeting Janet, I also got to meet many other lovely people for the first time. I've got to say, if you're looking to make friends, volunteer crew at a balloon festival. You'll meet all sorts of friendly people, and I can almost guarantee that you'll leave with a few more numbers in your phone book, or Facebook page. Also, balloonists know how to eat. Reception parties, tailgate parties, BBQs at a crew-member's home, etc. I have never been to a balloon festival where I haven't eaten well. In fact, I usually eat too well which threatens my waistline!
The Balloon Glow events were okay. The first night was only a "candle stick" event since the high winds made it dangerous to lay out the envelopes. The second night started a bit breezy but improved over time. I decided to exclusively use my ultra-wide lens for this. While I didn't get any winners, I think I have learned a little bit more on when, and where, to use my ultra-wide.
At the event was a Nikon booth, in association with Mike's Camera, where I got to have a short hands-on experience with the new Nikon Z7 camera. I have a whole blog post about this in the works, and I hope to have a video recorded as well about my thoughts on the Nikon Z series cameras. Please do look forward to that sometime soon. Hopefully this week...
I don't have much else to say about this event other than that it was enjoyable. While I didn't get any winning photos, I'm glad that I got to meet everybody there. I'll be seeing some of them again over the next few weeks.
Take a gander at the gallery below. If you have never been to the Labor Day Liftoff, I encourage you to make plans next year!