How to meter and shoot hot air balloons
Later this week, I'm going watch the morning (6 a.m.) liftoff of about 30 hot air balloons at a local show. Local sunrise is about 5:30 a.m. I have no idea how to shoot the balloons against the early morning sky. Here's the equipment I have available:
Bronica SQ Ai with a TTL prism finder
80mm and 150mm lenses (no w.a. lens) and a 2x teleconverter
Luna Pro F with 2.5° spot metering attachment
Red 25A filter
Delta 100 and Delta 400 film
SFX200 infrared (which I've never used for lack of an IR filter)
My main concern is how to meter and whether the red 25A filter would be useful.
Why use a red filter for the black and white film (it will darken a blue sky and increase contrast but lighten the reds in the balloons)? It would probably be best to get there early to check out the field of view and plan what you intend to shoot because with one camera body and more than one lens and film choices you may not have too much time to fiddle around with equipment once they are airborne. I would have a gray card handy and if spot metering off the different values of the balloons compare to the gray card to see where they fall on the tonal range. The filter and 2x will change the amount of exposure needed.
I have never photographed that subject but if the shoot is important why not go out at that time and location a day or so before with a digital camera and make some test shots at the ISO of the film you plan to use and the adjusted focal length of the lenses, make some notes so you will be prepared. You might get more interesting images of the assembly and inflation of the balloons than once they are in flight.
Good way to shoot balloons, now that the metering is out of the way. You might want a rangefinder, too. http://www.angelfire.com/tx4/busters...ITRIVIA29.html
Forget the filter at sunrise at 6 am the sun won't be fully up, unless you want the sun in the photo, shoot with your back in direction of the sun. You have a 2.5° spot meter use it for metering the balloons, try to get the reading of the car (Balloon) or another part that aproximates 18% gray. Another possibility is to take a reading of objects that are higher and will be lit in the same way as the Balloons for example a treetop.
Good luck and have fun
If I were you I wouldn't shoot balloons, they may not like it!
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TSA and Homeland 'Security' won't like it, either.
Originally Posted by Jeff Kubach
Like MDR said, meter for the balloons. I also agree that the red filter may lighten the reds on the balloons too much. If the sky isn't that interesting (no white fluffy clouds on a deep blue sky at 6am) just leave it off.
The 80mm focal length may be interesting to work with because the balloons are most likely going to be filling your frame quite easily if you are close-up. This could be a boon or a bust depending on how you like to compose things.
My biggest tip would be to arrive early! There are a lot of preparations that go into launching a balloon and in my opinion there are a lot of interesting photo opportunites such as the cold inflation of the envelope and setting up the gondola. From my experience, everyone involved is usually pretty friendly and is comfortable being photographed. Once they begin to ascend, things will move pretty fast. Pay attention to the wind and where they will go so you can have a clear vantage point and so you can plan your composition.