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PhotoWalk/Hot Air Balloon Flight

Hot air balloon photography can produce terrific results, and ballooning has numerous advantages for the photographer, compared to more conventional methods of flight. There are no windows on a balloon, giving you the opportunity to take photographs in all 360 degrees. A balloon is also great platform for panoramic photography over the majestic and tranquil Virginia countryside. We will be flying with Bonaire Charters - . Our hot air balloon adventures will be piloted by Scott Cohrs, the owner and chief pilot of Bonaire Charters. Scott has been flying commercially in Charlottesville and the surrounding areas for over 23 years. Space in the basket is tight, we will need to limit camera gear to backpacks of 10-20 pounds. Mono-pods only, there will be little room to setup Tripods.

Tip #1 - Bring Along Sufficient Storage Media

Your time in the air will be limited, so you'll want to take as many pictures as you can while you are up there, and review and delete pictures once you are back on land. Bring several gigabytes of memory. The more photos you take, the higher the chances of producing a breathtaking picture.

Tip #2 - Bring an Appropriate Zoom Lens

You will find yourself several thousand feet above the ground, so a lens of anywhere between 50 and 200 mm will be your friend. Bring your wide-angle lens also, so you can take more sweeping photos of your surroundings.

Tip #3 - Avoid Blur and Shake

There are perils of aerial photography: it is often very difficult to avoid unwanted blurring or vibration effects when taking pictures from the air.

One way to prevent blur in well-lit surroundings is to use a faster shutter speed. On a camera that supports manual shutter speed adjustment, set your shutter to 1/250th of a second or quicker.

Another way to prevent blur is to up your camera's ISO. This adjusts your camera's sensitivity to light, allowing you to use lower shutter speeds in less light. Set it to 400, 800, or 1600.

Most digital cameras have anti-shake features. Enable your camera's image stabilization. This setting is typically represented by an image of red hands on the viewer.

Tip #4 - Use Interesting Angles

Once all of your settings are lined up, you should try to produce a wide variety of pictures, including effects that cannot be replicated from the ground. If you are approaching buildings, bridges, or stands of trees, use unconventional angles. Take pictures from directly above the subject or from a slight angle, maybe 75 degrees. Viewing everyday objects and structures in new ways is a worthy objective.

Tip #5 - Try Panoramic Photography

A balloon is a great platform for panoramic photography. Balloons are slow-moving and accommodate unobstructed photography. With a wide-angle setup, take several shots to record a 360 degree perspective, and find a photo stitching program to combine your pictures into a panoramic image.

Tip # 6 - Have Fun

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  • Christian D.

    You guys got some amazing photos (just looked at them). Great job team!

    November 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What an experience! What a beautiful place we live in!

    1 · November 2, 2013

  • mike w.

    A Delight!

    1 · November 2, 2013

  • Rick S.

    I've created an Album for folks to upload images

    November 1, 2013

  • Christian D.

    I hope you guys have a GREAT shoot in the morning. Good look and great shooting!

    1 · November 1, 2013

  • Rick S.

    We are T-minus 12 hours :-) . I see Stars and clear skies right now... keep your fingers crossed that we have "perfect" sunny clear skies in the morning :-) . .. Please keep gear/camera bags to book bag sizes, this will gives us room to move around and prevent tripping over oversized gear bags :-)
    Now is the time to double check you have plenty of SD/CF cards and two charged batteries.
    I have a friend who will be shooting our prep and take off in the morning...I don't know if he'll be able to find the LZ (Landing Zone), but we'll see if the chase crew can snaps some pics if given a camera in "auto mode" :-D. I have everyone's Phone #..if there is a last minute change I will call you...if you have problems in the morning... please call me[masked]-5043.
    Otherwise I will see you at the steps of the Boar Heads Inn at 7:30.. I'll be wearing my usual "PhotoWalk" bright yellow "BoxerJam" Hat.


    1 · November 1, 2013

  • Rick S.

    I've been in contact with our Pilot/Captain Scott Cohrs of Bonaire Charters. Here is his response to some questions I had. Before I get to that... Mike and Gayle it would be helpful if you could e-mail me your cell numbers in case there are last minute changes ... [masked]... my cell is[masked] ok Scotts e-mail

    "Hi Rick, right now the weather looks good for Sat AM flight.

    We will meet at the front steps of the Boars Head Inn 7:30.

    Will call you if we have a change in the weather. You are down for 4 passengers.
    Flight time is 1hr-1hr1/2 depends on temp. and weight of passengers, flight direction,landing fields.
    Yes chase truck will bring you back to the Boars Head Inn.


    October 31, 2013

  • Deb S.

    SO wish I could attend - have a class that day!

    October 28, 2013

  • donald m.

    Seems like a good opportunity. Something like this little trick may also help in a shaky environment:

    October 27, 2013

  • Gayle H.

    This sounds like so much fun! Can't wait!

    October 13, 2013

    • Rick S.

      Welcome "aboard" :-D

      October 13, 2013

  • Natalie Brinton K.

    I am tempted by this..thinking about it.

    2 · October 6, 2013

    • Christian D.

      Let me be the devil on your shoulder "Do it! Do it!" :-)

      1 · October 6, 2013

  • Anna Q.

    Wish I could go! Went up last year with Blue Ridge Ballooning and have pretty awesome photos from the flight! I'd totally go this time but I'll be on a flight to Peru that AM to be the photographer for a cleft palate/lip slurp get mission!! ;) Have sooooooo much fun!! Can't wait to see the photos!!

    September 26, 2013

  • Christian D.

    Thanks so much for putting this together Rick - awesome job! Wish I could attend this, but I'm a teaching a class that day at PVCC.

    September 26, 2013

4 went

Your organizer's refund policy for PhotoWalk/Hot Air Balloon Flight

Refunds offered if:

  • the Meetup is cancelled
  • the Meetup is rescheduled

Additional notes: The $225.00 per person is the cost of the Hot Air Balloon Charter and payable to Bonaire Charters (cash/check) after the flight.

Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.

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