I begin planning for my opening day “photo shoot” months before Balloon Fiesta. I read photo blogs to improve my Hot Air Balloon photography technique. A local photographer shares hints with me about great locations to stage myself for the ascensions. The day before the event I clean and polish my camera lenses and filters. I charge my camera battery, empty my SD cards. Arranging my equipment in anticipation of a pre-dawn departure, I verify my planned route to the bluff overlooking the field. From this position I have been promised that the sun peeking over my shoulder will illuminate the vivid hues of the rising balloons.
Sunny Loses Sight of the Hot Air Balloons
I am ready for anything – except what happens. At 4:50am Storm drives me to the field on his way to pick up and deliver the RV Volunteer breakfasts provided by Balloon Fiesta. After encountering several Police blockades where I was given helpful re-routing directions I at last find myself at the base of the bluff. I climb to the top where a convenient Jersey barrier serves as a frigid seat for my photo session. Cloudless skies and the slightest whiff of breeze promise a balloon launch clear of obstacles.
And then everything gets blurry. Raising my camera to adjust for the next photo, I somehow hit myself in the eye with my camera viewfinder and pop out my contact lens. I know right away that it fell to the ground at my feet. Of course since I am basically blind without my contacts and it is zero dark thirty I have no idea where it landed. Afraid to move lest I crush the errant lens, I take a deep breathe to calm myself. Next, I politely ask the young man standing next to me if he would please help me. I explain my dilemma and he reaches down and immediately hands the lens to me. He must have incredible vision!
A lady behind us hears my story and immediately insists that I follow her to her camper conveniently located right behind us to clean my lens. In her bathroom I am able to restore my right eye vision. After thanking everyone profusely for helping me, I return to my perch and carefully resume shutter snapping. Thank heavens for good Samaritans.
Balloons Rain Down on Storm
Meanwhile Storm is back at the RV park where balloons are raining down on him. Seeking refuge from increasing winds, pilots land in an undisturbed area in the RV park called “the box.” Campers and volunteers of all ages rush to assist incoming balloons. A huge special shape settles on the RV park main road and Storm finds himself holding a frog leg as he helps walk Mr. Frog to a safe landing area.