The balloons will soon take into the skies again in Bristol. It is always a fun event that provides lots of photo opportunities.
2011 was no exception - great show and grand view from the Clifton side of the suspension bridge:
The photograph (above) spent almost 2 years in my archive waiting to be uncovered and refined.
I arrived slightly late so there was little time to prepare. I grabbed my trusty Canon 1Ds mark II camera with an ultra wide-angle Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM lens, and promptly mounted Lee filters to balance the exposure of the sky. The festival action was unfolding right in front of my eyes; the balloons were passing right over my head. What a Dramma! The very first image at this view point proved to be the very best one. There were all the right elements in the frame: the bridge, the gorge, balloons and nice warm sunshine. Great!
However, not everything was so simple once I downloaded the RAW files. Wide angle lenses are know for significant distortion of subjects in the corners - and the balloons proved to be no exception. Luckily DxO Optics software came to a rescue with the excellent Volume Anamorphic Correction feature. In the end I decided to blend the key areas back into the Lightroom 4 processed image. Perspective or keystone correction also proved necessary to ensure the bridge looked natural; that is never easy with tight compositions like this. The correction resulted in the compression of the lower part of the image, and then Photoshop CS6 with the smart healing tool was invaluable to fill in the "missing" corners, and remove a couple small distracting branches on the right. Finally, the image came to life after this adventurous journey, that was made possible by the recent advances in image processing software. Therefore, it is always a good idea to hang on to the original files...
The direction of the wind quickly changed taking the ballons Eastwards. The vantage point from the cliffs next to the bridge provided a more dramatic view, as a couple of the balloons almost descended right in to the gorge. The show didn't last very long - the sunshine was soon gone, and the ever changing wind brought the launch to the end. Quick decisions were the key to getting the pictures. Perspective correction was also very helpful to ensure the image looks as close to the day as possible.
© Daugirdas Tomas Racys 2013. All rights reserved