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On Everyone’s Bucket List

October 27, 2017

It was still  dark and only 39 degrees when my photographer colleague and I set off for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Our plan was to scope out the parking situation and good shooting and meeting places before our group of eleven arrived for a photography workshop later that day. Within two hours I couldn’t feel my feet, and despite wearing wool mitten/gloves, my fingers had a hard time adjusting the settings on my camera. All I could think of was Alaska last March ( see North to Alaska).

He warned me that once the balloons started ascending it would be overwhelming, and not to obsess over trying to capture the most unusual or artistic shot. It had all been done before, he said of this most-photographed event in the world.

Over the next several days I saw more hot-air balloons than I’d ever seen in my life, including the iconic special shapes that make this fiesta so interesting. Each morning began before sunrise with a laser light show, followed by the Dawn Patrol, when a group of up to a dozen balloons ascended, glowing in the dark. Just before dawn, the field was filled with the Morning Glow,  and as the sun rose from behind the Sandia Mountains the mass ascension of some 570 balloons began.

You could get really close to the action.       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some special shapes…



This TV announcer sported buttons from all the fiestas he has attended.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By 8:30 we were ready to return to the hotel for breakfast, as the balloons started their descent and deflation.

At the other end of the day was the Glowdeo, just at sunset, when the special shapes were inflated. The evening we went the wind was gusty, and the handlers had a hard time keeping their baskets grounded. We were standing right under Señor Mariachi when this pretty little señorita broke free and shot up in the air, tearing a hole in señor’s backside and flying off toward the end of the field. Fortunately, an experienced pilot was in the basket and managed to take her over the midway and the parking lot and put her down in a field. That was the last we saw of the Mexican Doll.

But we all stood there like doofuses and no one got a shot of the near-disaster!

Next up: Fireworks!

  1. 39 degrees! Isn’t that a balmy morning compared to Chena Hot Springs? Great photos

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