Hey Everyone! Erin here! Recently I took my camera to the St. Louis Balloon Glow, held every year in Forest Park as part of their Great Forest Park Balloon Race.I knew the event was a popular one in the Lou but had no idea how friggin packed it was going to be!
Photographers much more talented than I were having issues finding a place to set up shop. Armed with my tripod, two lenses (my standard 18-55 kit lens and my 50mm fixed lense) and my boyfriend in tow I was determined to get a good shot.
Setting up the tripod so far away was a disaster. It felt unwieldy and I haven’t quite nailed using the remote shutter to get the shots I wanted. IT felt like I was hitting the release at the wrong time, and many of my images came out blurry (deleted them before I decided to write this post. Oops!).
Disheartened, I decided to cash in my dreams of being a photographer and decided to enjoy the balloon glow in the moment. For funsies, I put my tripod away and walk among the balloons with my camera set to 3200 ISO. Every couple of minutes, a horn would sound and the hot air balloons would light up…that’s my chance!
A lot of them weren’t winners by any stretch of the imagination - blurry, too much noise, didn’t hit the shutter fast enough to capture what I wanted. My composition also leaves something to be desired. Although I’d like to say I have a natural eye for composing shots the sad truth is often times I’m close to what I’m envisioning but can’t execute. The Glow was good practice in lining up objects and practicing the rule of thirds. I did manage to get some neat stuff like this flame:
In the end I learned two important lessons:
1) I’m better on the go than tied down by a tripod. I know, I know, eventually I’ll have to learn how to master it - but leads me to my next point
2) Having fun is more important than setting up the “right” shot. The first half of my night was ruined because I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t there to get paid to take pictures, I wasn’t there to torture myself, and I wasn’t there to torture my boyfriend by making him listen to me swearing at the camera every other second. I ended up having a really nice night once I cut loose and decided that if I got a great picture, fine, and if I didn’t, well, I’m still an amateur and there’s always lessons to learn.
From my trip to Albuquerque a couple weeks ago for the balloon festival. Unfortunately they weren’t able to lift off or continue the glow after it started raining, but what we did see was beautiful. It’s a surreal event. Maybe next time.