Sunday, October 16, 2011

40th International Balloon Fiesta

My visit to New Mexico included some great photographic opportunities including Old Town, Casa Rondena Winery, Villanueva, and Houser Sculpture Gardens.  But nothing quite says Albuquerque like the internationally renowned Balloon Fiesta.  Having grown up in Albuquerque, it was easy to take this spectacle for granted.  My first photoshoot of the balloons was in 1976, using Kodacolor film and my Pentax Spotmatic F.  A lot has changed since then.

Since the first “Balloon Fiesta” in 1972, which included only 13 balloons, the event quickly outgrew its original venue, and after moving several times has settled on a 360 acre venue (launch field alone is 80 acres) called Balloon Fiesta Park.  This year’s event featured over 700 balloons, and remains the only major balloon event where the spectators are allowed on the grounds with the balloons and their pilots and crews.  You can literally touch the balloon gondolas and feel the heat, and the roar, of the propane burners.  It’s hard to describe the combination of excitement and amazement, and the pictures barely do justice to the feeling of being there.  That’s why over 100,000 people pack the venue to be part of the action each day of the week-long event.  The attendance reported for the last day’s mass ascension was estimated at 130,000.

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(metadata 1/500 sec at f/5.3 and ISO 200, focal length 80mm)

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