Night Glow is a key event and highlight at any balloon fiesta, where hot air balloons light up the night as balloonists ignite propane burners to heat and light up the balloons, turning them into giant light bulbs. At the recently concluded 7th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, two night glows were scheduled for the weekend. I attended Saturday’s event, my first night glow experience. By the time I arrived, tickets for the event were completely sold out – no access to the launch area and getting up close to the balloons 😦 . Tickets were limited to prevent overcrowding within the launch area – a precautionary safety measure. Lesson learnt, do an early bird online booking or queue up earlier (i was at the ticket counter 3 hours prior to the event) on the day of the event to ensure tickets in future fiestas. All is not lost though, fallback plan, join the thick crowd of visitors watching for free from the perimeter of the launch area; and boy, was it crowded that night. The night glow is a real crowd-puller at this fiesta.
At the stipulated time, the balloons were conveyed to their designated positions within the launch area. They were then inflated as if they are going to take off, but held down by the ground crew to prevent them from ascending. The propane burners were fired up periodically to keep the balloons inflated with hot air. A total of 10 balloons participated in the event, a rather small number when compared to other international balloon fiestas, due to limited space within the launch area. It was chock-a-block at the perimeter and a challenge finding some good and unobstructed spots to photograph from.
When fully inflated and lit up by the burners’ flames, the balloons glowed like huge light bulbs or Chinese lanterns in the dark night. Just beautiful. Quite a spectacular display, especially when the balloonists were able to get them all alight at the same time.
Cameras, cameras and more cameras were clicking away throughout. Selfies, Instagrams, Facebook posts all happening in concert. The mind boggles at the the sheer number of images captured at events these days, thanks to the availability of affordable convenient mobile digital imaging. A rather short but nonetheless colourful fireworks display brought the event to a close.
In retrospect, photographing from the perimeter was not too bad and has its merits, I had a wider coverage of the balloons with my wide angle lens, thus emphasize their sheer size and presence, and zooming in with the long zoom for the closer shots. Finding a vantage spot (wished I had a collapsible ladder with me then to tower above the crowd) and moving around was difficult though.
I wish you a good weekend.
All photos: Fujifilm X-E1 & X-E2 with 14mm and 55-200mm XF lenses