Nighttime Balloon Festival

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A local city had a nighttime balloon festival this evening, at a city park featuring a massive lake. Took the family along for an outing, and since we ended up having to park on the far side of the park/lake anyway, I took the opportunity to take some pictures.

I would appreciate constructive criticism. I shot raw+jpeg, but all photos here are scaled or manipulated from the jpegs.

On arrival, it was not yet dark:
all-firing-scaled.JPG

43mm f/8, 1 second, ISO 400. Minor crop and then scale to 3000x2000, no other manipulation.

After it got dark, composite of the balloons that I could get firing (one did not fire during this time):
composite-scaled.JPG
50mm f/8, 1 second, ISO 400. Composite of three images, first and third balloons brightened in GIMP.


1stballoon-scaled-brightened.JPG

50mm f/1.8, 1/5o second, ISO 1600. Slightly cropped, scaled, and brightened in GIMP.


2ndballoon-scaled.JPG

168mm f/8, 1 second, ISO 400. Significant crop from a much larger image, then scaled, no other manipulation.


Most of the shooting was from across the lake, the third image was taken from much closer. It was surprisingly difficult to get good photos, but the balloonists didn't fire their gas burners for terribly long so I missed a whole lot of shots simply not being fast enough on the shutter.

I also can confirm that my 10-22mm lens with a nonfunctioning auto/manual switch is ANNOYING. I tried to use it close to the festivities but since it wouldn't manually focus it was basically unusable in the dark, because I couldn't easily pre-focus on any particular balloon before the gas jets were fired, and keep that focus easily.

Anyway, other than the malfunctioning lens I had a lot of fun. I only heard about the event about five minutes before we packed the car and headed up, so it was very spur of the moment. Didn't stay too long, had to get the kiddo home for bedtime.
 

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Sounds like an interesting challenge from the way you described it. Good job. I like #1.
 
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Good job overall! Photography is a tough thing to master, even professionals can't please everyone with their work because it's inherent that people will disagree no matter what you do. Personally, I think you're on the right track with all the pics but #3 looked better from a distance, IMHO. The cropping exaggerated the bright light too much. I understand you had difficulties, that's normal and all is forgiven. ;)
 
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Good job overall! Photography is a tough thing to master, even professionals can't please everyone with their work because it's inherent that people will disagree no matter what you do. Personally, I think you're on the right track with all the pics but #3 looked better from a distance, IMHO. The cropping exaggerated the bright light too much. I understand you had difficulties, that's normal and all is forgiven. ;)

Here's the original for #3, just scaled to upload to the forum:

1stballoon-just-scaled.JPG


This was the first time I'd made a serious effort to night-shooting. I can see where full frame would be handy for more light for a given aperture would be handy. The balloons were not in a straight line, and balloons do move, even if slowly. It made it hard to get both all in-focus and no motion-blur at the same time, especially if I was trying to keep my ISO down.

It was also tricky with the brightness of the flame versus the limited brightness of the balloon fabric. That middle-left balloon and the one second from the right did not light-up especially well, if I didn't capture the exact moment that the flame was initiated then the glow of the balloon was dim compared to the gas jet.
 

K9Kirk

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Good job overall! Photography is a tough thing to master, even professionals can't please everyone with their work because it's inherent that people will disagree no matter what you do. Personally, I think you're on the right track with all the pics but #3 looked better from a distance, IMHO. The cropping exaggerated the bright light too much. I understand you had difficulties, that's normal and all is forgiven. ;)

Here's the original for #3, just scaled to upload to the forum:

View attachment 184724

This was the first time I'd made a serious effort to night-shooting. I can see where full frame would be handy for more light for a given aperture would be handy. The balloons were not in a straight line, and balloons do move, even if slowly. It made it hard to get both all in-focus and no motion-blur at the same time, especially if I was trying to keep my ISO down.

It was also tricky with the brightness of the flame versus the limited brightness of the balloon fabric. That middle-left balloon and the one second from the right did not light-up especially well, if I didn't capture the exact moment that the flame was initiated then the glow of the balloon was dim compared to the gas jet.

Understood, the circumstances can make it tricky. Again, I think you did a good job overall.
 
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Good shooting.......
Eh. Estimated remaining exposures on the memory card was 801 when I started, it was 554 when I checked just now. It would be nice if I could get more than four good shots straight out of the camera. Now that said I do not consider the remaining shutter count to be more than a guideline.

Once I have a chance to go through the pictures and play with some of the raw files I'll see how many more turned out well, or how many other composite pictures I can make. I had my wife's M100 with me, kind of wish I'd taken a few photos with it too, even though it's a lot harder to manually control. Most of the shots were taken in live-view on the 77D, if only because I didn't want to lose my glasses by taking them off to use the viewfinder. It would have been interesting to see if I'd have had essentially identical results with the M100.

I realize now I hadn't manually set white-balance, so playing with that might improve the first photo a bit too.
 

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Nice captures! Very little to no noise - and that's viewing your images on a large 34" ultra wide monitor. I especially like #1.
 
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Nice captures! Very little to no noise - and that's viewing your images on a large 34" ultra wide monitor. I especially like #1.

This may be a weird analogy, but I'm attempting to develop my photography skills in a fashion similar to how I learned to drive a car. When I learned to drive, I spent hours and hours in empty parking lots, learning how to control the car itself, first learning how to let out the clutch without popping it and stalling, then learning how to start and stop quickly, then learning how to steer while controlling speed, then finally learning starting and stopping while steering. Once I learned how to operate the car, then I learned how drive in traffic, where my decisions had to react quickly to changing conditions.

So right now I'm working on the mechanics of using the camera effectively, learning what exposure settings produce various results. This balloon festival was the equivalent of the empty parking lot, in that I could limit the number of factors I had to account for, and while set-up across the lake there were very few people or other kinds of distractions. I didn't have an infinite amount of time, but I wasn't pressured to get a shot quickly to then move-on. I had opportunity to try a few different lenses. #1 was taken with the 17-55mm f/2.8. I think #2 was as well, I'll have to go through the metadata, but it just as easily could've been taken by the 50mm f/1.8. #3 was definitely taken with the 50mm f/1.8 (and was the last of the four taken as I'd walked over to get it) and #4 was taken with the Tamron 70-300mm. Either way, my goal was to have as low an ISO as I could, with enough depth of field, with the slowest shutter speed that wouldn't end up with motion blur. I frankly have no idea if those were the right choices or not, but they seem to have worked for a few of the photos.

Maybe eventually I'll get to where I take pictures as well as I drive. Bear in mind I learned a lot from watching Elwood in The Blues Brothers though...
 

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This may be a weird analogy....

Not at all ...... In my opinion, photography is an artistic endevor that is and should be undertaken on an individual bases. Using a camera (tool) to capture what you envision in your own mind is akin to a painter using a canvas to portray their own work of art. To mimic someone else's style or methods would diminish your unique vision - and don't let anyone tell you how YOU should envision the world we live in. Learning how to use a camera to its full potential is an experience everyone has to go through. Others can help and assist but never lose your own style and vision.
 

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