ePz's 16 Days Of Xmas, Plus A Prize For Everyone On Xmas Day! Enter The Prize Draw Today!

7 Top Tips To Help You Master Hot Air Balloon Photography

Find out why hot-air balloons are interesting subjects for a photographer and how to capture top shots of them with our handy top tips.

| General Photography

7 Top Tips To Help You Master Hot Air Balloon Photography: Hot Air Balloon Crop


Hot-air balloons are big, colourful and slow-moving – and absolutely superb subjects for photography. This is the time of year when balloon festivals start to take place when in theory at least, it is warm and the air relatively still early and late in the day.

1. Gear Suggestions

A standard zoom will cope with most opportunities when you are shooting ground-based subjects while a telezoom is perfect for ground-to-air pictures. A telezoom is also good for pulling in details and will take up less room in your camera backpack than a variety of different lenses would. Have your fingers crossed for a nice blue sky, just remember to fit a polariser to maximise colour saturation of the balloon as well as the sky.

2. Safety First

For safety reasons very close access to the balloons is restricted but that's not a real issue because it is not as if they are small and you have to get close to fill the frame. In fact, for a decent perspective, it helps to be further back anyway so that you do not have to aim the lens upwards too much. 

3. Time Of Day

Flying takes place early or late in the day. The rest of the time, you can shoot tethered balloons as well as other entertainments that you get at festivals. You will find that the hot air balloons are just one of many attractions that might also include classic cars, funfairs and the opportunity to shop, eat and drink.

4. Arrive Early

Some of the best shots of the day can come during set-up and initial inflation so if you can, get there early enough to shoot these pictures. The balloon team using a big fan and the burner to get hot air in is very photogenic. 

5. Composition Tips

As with every subject, the composition is something that must be considered carefully, especially with regard to the sky. A vibrant blue sky with some fluffy clouds is perfect but more often than not, it is grey and flat – even in summer. Flat grey skies should be excluded from your images as much as possible and that is challenging given a balloon's round shape. But don't think that you must include the whole balloon as cropping the top off a balloon can help the overall composition.

Having some nice light and colour is ideal so make the most of it if you get good conditions, especially when balloons are being inflated. Do remember that their shape changes during this process so shoot quickly. 

A good time to shoot with your telephoto is when the balloons are still tethered to the ground. Compose carefully avoiding any ground-based elements and you can give the impression that it is in the air.

6. Weather Check

If you intend to shoot balloons taking off and are making a long journey, it is very important that you check the weather forecast. If the forecast is for winds of over 10mph, you might as well as stay at home because there will be no balloon take-offs.


7. ISO And Shutter Speeds

If you get lucky and the light's good, you may still want to increase your ISO from your usual speed. Just keep an eye on the shutter speeds you are getting especially for images of the ground crew getting things ready. When the sun is up, sufficiently fast shutter speeds are rarely a problem.


You've read the technique now share your related photos for the chance to win prizes: Daily Forum Competition

MPB Start Shopping

Support this site by purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.


Other articles you might find interesting...

5 Cold Weather Photography Tips
5 Easy Ways To Make Shots More Interesting
Get Creative With Apertures
Wide Angle Photography Hints And Tips
Photograph Artificial Poppies On and Around Remembrance Day
Autumn Photography Walk Advice
Seven Tutorials On Capturing Motion And Movement
Take A Composition Challenge

There are no comments here! Be the first!


You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.