Light Up,  Hot Air and Glow
Hot Air Balloons landing on Swan Lake near Vernon, B.C.

Light Up, Hot Air and Glow

“Whoosh…”, the sound of hot air balloons breaking gravity’s grasp and sailing into the sky has attracted my attention for as long as I can remember.  I’m not sure whether it’s the colour or the sense of adventure and wonder they provide that grabs my interest but whenever I see one flying above the landscape I stop and wonder where it is going, where it will end up. 

In Kelowna I can often hear one or two of hot air balloons sailing above our rooftop in the early hours of summer Sunday mornings. They rise majestically to catch the breeze giving their passengers a breath taking view of the Okanagan Valley. While I love to watch and get up close to them I have no desire to fly in one of them. My feet prefer to be solidly grounded. 

Ballooners love to gather and rally with their balloons. Some are just small gatherings and others are major events. I recall seeing promotional material of a major rally held annually in the Phoenix, Arizona area. We were never there to witness it first hand but in pictures it looked amazing.

The Vernon Winter Carnival has conducted a hot air balloon event for many years. Prior to Covid it attracted ballooners from western Canada and south of the border. Typically, the event included a Lightup and Glow on the first evening of the Carnival followed by Saturday and Sunday races and a target drop. This event tested the skills of the ballooner to navigate his rig to a specific location and drop a flag into a target area. 

This year’s event was scaled back from years past. The light up and glow  held on the first evening of the Carnival was the only balloon related event. I think this has happened because the race is so wind and weather dependent that cancellations became a factor for some ballooners. The cost of travel and accommodation for some was not worth the risk of cancelation. 

Only five balloons took part in the Lightup and Glow this year. Even so, the sizes of the balloons and the vibrancy of their colours when lit up was spectacular. 

The sun had just set when we arrived at Polson Park. Already the balloons were inflated, their propane flames heating  the air to keep them full. Many onlookers were gathered close to the balloons perhaps to keep warm in the cold, crisp evening air. Others, sought to find more isolated locations to view and photograph the spectacle. 

Randomly, each balloon lit up with a roar of brilliant flame. The colours of each balloon contrasting with the dark sky. 

We decided to leave a bit early to avoid getting caught up in the homeward bound traffic. I felt that I had made enough images to reflect the colour of the event. I was wrong. 

As we walked away I turned to see all of the balloons lit up. In front of them a border of trees were silhouetted y the light of the balloons. It was a spectacular view. I managed to squeeze off a number shots before darkness returned.  

This set of images represents my interest in photographing events. It is an interest that I mentioned in my last blog post, He’s Back: the Geezer with a Camera. All of these images were made at the Vernon Winter Carnival’s Hot Air Balloon event. Several were made two weeks ago at the opening of the Festival. Others were made in years previous when the event included a flying competition.

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