What started as a small gathering of 13 balloons in 1972, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world. Held each year during the first week in October, the Balloon Fiesta now attracts more than 600 balloons and 1000 pilots.
Whether you are planning a family vacation, a couple’s getaway or a personal retreat, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF) is a destination that everyone can enjoy. From hundreds of colorful balloons drifting effortlessly in a crisp blue sky, to brilliant firework displays in New Mexico’s beautiful dessert landscape, it’s no wonder the AIBF is one of the most photographed events in the world. Ken Sklute, Canon’s Explorer of Light & Experienced Balloonist shares his tips to photograph this popular event!
Its reported that 25 million photographs are taken throughout the week long event, which is why Canon U.S.A. Inc. is on the ground to help attendees capture the colorful balloons, dynamic laser light shows and brilliant firework displays in New Mexico’s beautiful dessert landscape! Taking place October 7 through 15, Fiesta-goers will have the chance to experience Canon’s finest cameras, lenses and gear as well as receive hands on demonstrations and tips from Canon’s team of expert photographers on how to capture the best images while at the AIBF.
Photo enthusiasts, Instagrammers and those looking to simply capture beautiful shots at the Fiesta can take advantage of the following:
- Photography Equipment for Loan: For your readers, they can have the chance to experience Canon’s finest cameras, lenses and gear – from entry level point-and-shoots to professional grade DSLRs - as well as receive hands on demonstrations and tips from Canon’s team of expert photographers on how to capture the best images while at the AIBF daily from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at either the Canon Tent located in the center of Main Street .
- Photography Expert Led Photo Walks: Canon we will also be hosting two photo walks lead by photography experts each day for Fiesta-goers at 5:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. departing from the Canon Tent. Photo walk participants can print out all of their photographs taken at the Canon Tent for free.
- More to do with Canon at AIBF: The following will also be available at the Canon Tent: o Free camera and lens clean and checks o Free Fiesta themed photo booth and 4x6 photo souvenir o Exclusive show discounts with on-site camera, lens and printer purchases o #TeamCanon branded swag bag sweepstakes
AIBF Photography Tips: by Ken Sklute, Canon’s Explorer of Light and Experienced Balloonist
Hot air balloon photography is generally an early, early morning sport. What you can see and capture once you wake up, whatever the hour, makes it all worth it. The most striking moments come during the “Dawn Patrol” and “Mass Ascension.” Interestingly, the reason for this is that hot air balloons can only fly in stable air. During the day, the sun heats the earth and creates thermals, which makes it difficult to fly. In the morning or evening, heating is almost not active, providing stable air, optimal flying conditions and beautiful views!
If you are planning on photographing the Fiesta, I'd suggest you first arrange a flight in one of the hot air balloons. Viewing the balloons from the fiesta grounds is exciting, but it pales in comparison to a birds-eye view of the entire fiesta launch field. You will be a part of the beauty with balloons in front of you, behind you, to the left, right, above and below you. There is no better place to capture a sunrise than flying in a balloon during the Mass Ascension at the AIBF on a crisp October morning.
Use a Real Camera
And I don’t mean your smartphone. There’s no substitute to having a real camera in your hands when trying to capture the exciting and magical event. With the right gear, you can capture beautiful imagery created by the landscape, lighting and colorful scenes. There are plenty of great options available from Canon U.S.A., Inc. – such as entry-level DSLRs like the Rebel T7i and Rebel Sl2 – that you can rely on for your Fiesta photos.
As the presenting sponsor, Canon is on site with what you need including its finest cameras, lenses and gear such as these, as well as hands on demonstrations and tips from expert photographers. Canon will also be hosting photo walks lead by experts for all budding photographer balloon-goers as well.
For all GIF and video clip social media lovers, you can produce time-lapse videos with any DSLR by shooting individual still images, and create a finished video from those stills using software in your computer. Newer Canon EOS models – available to use at the Fiesta – have a dedicated menu setting within their video menus to produce in-camera time lapse videos. This is in addition to these cameras' Interval Timer setting, which is for shooting a series of still image files.
Try A New Lens On
Having a few different lens options at your disposal will help you capture all of the amazing landscapes and telephoto shots from wherever you are. While a point-and-shoot offering like the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers an impressive 65x optical zoom lens, entry-level DSLR users can utilize options like the ultra-wide zoom 17-40mm f/4L USM. If you’re able to bring along a second lens, the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is a reliable choice and will bring variety to your photography!
If you are not sure what is the best fit, head to the Canon tent on-site to try out new lenses for your camera and get expert advice!
Stay for the Balloon Glow
The Balloon Glow is an exciting and colorful event where many of the pilots inflate their balloons at sunset, keeping them tethered to the ground, and use a special burner that creates a bright, warm light within the envelope, giving the balloons a light bulb like appearance. In the evening, you will have ideal light and less people crowding around the balloons. The best vantage point for the glow would be facing west, photographing directly into the sunset or twilight sky.