2011 Crown of Maine Balloon Festival

I went up to the 2011 Crown of Maine Balloon Festival in Presque Isle last weekend and shot 6,675 photos, plus some video on my iPhone. It took me a little over a week to edit everything and make a movie. Here is a compilation of timelapses, panoramas, and video that I put together.

If you have a fast Internet connection, you can click the full screen button in the lower right corner of the video and watch in 720p HD for a higher resolution video.

I found a pretty little duck pond not far away from where the balloons were launching and thought it would make a great location to catch reflections. I had the 14-24mm ultrawide lens on the camera in the evening, and the wind blew the balloons away from me so I didn’t get any close ups. I thought the timelapse still looked pretty neat though with the balloons bobbing up and down along the horizon like little bouncing balls.

The next morning was very foggy and made for a beautiful sunrise. I put the 24-70mm “normal” lens on the camera expecting to get a closer timelapse with the balloons still reflecting in the pond. With the fog I couldn’t really tell where they launching from until one started rising out of the fog. I had to slowly pan the camera while it was still taking the timelapse to catch the launch (which still looks too fast when sped up). Then to my surprise the wind shifted and the balloons headed straight towards me instead of away from me as I’d expected. Now I wished I had last night’s ultrawide lens on the camera since 24mm wasn’t anywhere near wide enough to keep them all in frame! I wound up getting some great detail shots since the balloons flew right overhead, even though I had to pan the camera back and forth a lot while it was shooting the timelapse to keep up. I got several really good still frames out of the timelapse even though the timelapse itself turned out to be quite jerky from all the manual panning and zooming back and forth. Since the balloons were so close the iPhone was able to record some nice video of them, and even some audio of the closest balloon crossing the sunrise.

After the balloons had all launched, I followed the last ones up to Caribou with the 70-200mm telephoto lens and took some closeups and panoramas. I like taking stitched panoramas with a telephoto because the scene looks a lot more compressed than if you had taken the same photo with a wide angle, not to mention a lot higher resolution. The longer focal length makes the subject (in this case balloons) look much larger than the background (the farm houses and landscape). By stitching several telephoto images together you still get a wide field of view like an ultrawide lens would give, but without the distracting foreground elements which would make the subject look smaller and more distant. Most of the panoramas were taken at an f/10 to f/14 aperture for greater depth of field at longer focal lengths, whereas a wide angle lens would have plenty of depth of field at f/5.6 to f/8. Since I was shooting directly into the sun for the panoramas of the balloon landing and take down I also took 7 to 9 images of exposure bracketing for each frame to stitch an HDR panorama. Some of the panoramas are made up of over 100 photos. Between stitching panoramas and rendering the HDR timelapses, it took me about a week to edit everything and make the final video. Here are some still shots, most of them from the video.

These images can be purchased through my gallery here:
http://galleries.aaronpriestphoto.com/Events/2011-08-26-27/ 

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