The four day Bristol Balloon Fiesta celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, but many of the planned activities were hampered or cancelled by bad weather.
We arrived early Friday evening to clear skies and high winds. The mass balloon take-off was reduced to a single, inflated balloon waving about uncontrollably before dragging a Land Rover and several support balloonists across a field, at which point the organisers called off the ‘teathering’ event (inflating but not flying). We were sorely disappointed and were in no doubt that the weather forecast would affect the night glow event the following evening.
There was however, a glimmer of hope for the 6am mass balloon lift, but we were dubious about getting up so early on a Saturday morning. Miraculously we were up and out (albeit blurry-eyed) by 5.45am on a crystal clear morning with a gentle breeze – perfect for ballooning.
What a magical sight it turned out to be. Over 130 balloons of all shapes, sizes and colours took to the sky. The deep blue sky and bright white vapour trails provided the perfect backdrop for the vibrant balloons. The gentle puffing off hot air could be heard from the ground and sounded like the deep, raspy breath of a sleeping dragons. It was genuinely an uplifting (pardon the pun) experience.
On this occasion, I limited myself to a single 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens on my Canon EOS 5D MKIII – challenging but also liberating. I did not waste time pondering which lens to use, I could just point and shoot.