The blue skies over Albuquerque, New Mexico are filled with bursts of color the beginning of each October. The city’s famed International Balloon Fiesta is perhaps the most photographed hot air balloon festival on the planet. Drawing thousands of professional and amateur shutterbugs to a site the size of 54 football fields, the greatest hot air ballooning event in the world offers unforgettable moments and jaw-dropping images you’ll be dying to capture. Before you begin clicking away, here are a few tips on how to capture award-winning photos of colorful balloons in the sky, and build once-in-a-lifetime memories at the Albuquerque balloon festival:
8 Hot Air Balloon Photography Tips:
- Travel Light: Since the Balloon Fiesta Park is so large and there are so many stunning subjects to photograph, you’re bound to do a lot of walking. Ditch the heavy camera bag in favor of lighter gear.
- Take Your Best Shot:Especially if this is your first time, experiment! Play with your shutter speed, and try a variety of vantage points to get interesting shots: shoot from a low angle, shoot at an ISO if 400 or 800 at the night glow, hold your camera up above the crowd, get wide angle shots, or even lie on your back. Since the pilots and crews are especially nice, there’s even a good chance they’ll let you shoot inside the balloon envelope as it inflates.
- Look for Patterns: When watching the balloons, keep an eye out for interesting patterns they form in the sky, or the unique color combinations made by multiple balloons rising alongside each other.
- Watch the Weather: By knowing the direction and speed of the wind you can predict when a balloon will be coming into your field of vision. Try to place yourself ahead of the balloons so you can capture them as they glide overhead.
- Back Off: Photographing the mass ascension or balloon glows is an unbelievable chance to get up-close shots of balloons flying. However, to get photos of the entire mass of balloons, you need to back away from the field a bit. Pick a spot on the edge of the field where the balloons are headed. Then, as they float over top of you and begin to float away, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular shots.
- Be in the Bulls Eye:Periodically during the competition, pilots will fly their balloons toward the field in an attempt to drop a beanbag or marker onto a target on the ground. By getting close to the target, you’ll be able to record a mass of balloons flying at very low altitudes, sometimes as low as ten feet.
- There’s an App for That: The limited settings on a mobile phone present a challenge. For better images, download a camera app that allows you to shoot in low light or at longer shutter speeds.
- Different Times Yield Different Shots: The Fiesta hosts both evening and early morning session While the Dawn Patrol offers a chance to see the balloons floating against the sunrise, the evening session allows you to photograph the orbs alight against the evening sky.
Visit the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!
You can witness the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in person this fall on our Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta & Southwestern Tour. On this exciting 10-day itinerary you’ll also visit the brilliantly bright White Sands National Monument, mysterious Roswell, relaxing Scottsdale, and Carlsbad Caverns. To make your plans to join a YMT at the festival this fall, call your travel consultant or YMT Vacations at 1-888-756-9072.