Hot-Air Balloon Launch

For the past several years the company that I work for has participated as a hot-air balloon launch site for the Carolina BalloonFest.  This year I arrived early so I could photograph the event.  Spectators are allowed to be on the field as the balloon crews are setting up the balloons.  It is interesting to watch this occur.  As each crew member seems to have a specific role in the unloading, inflation, and launch of the balloon.  Each balloon is unique in shape and color.  Also, the balloons are launched just after sunrise when the air is still cool and the winds are light.  This made for some decent photo opportunities with the bright flames of the burners against the new light of the day.

Click on any of the photos below to see a larger version.

Flames from a burner shoot into the balloon
Flames shoot from the burner as a balloon is being inflated and prepared for launch.
Flames shoot from the burner as a hot-air balloon ascends
More flames as the balloon pilot is lifting away
Balloons being inflated
Balloons being inflated.  The dog shaped balloon in the background was a big hit with the younger children.
A hot-air balloon body against the blue sky
I just liked this composition with just a portion of the balloon in frame.
Hot-air balloon ascending
Pilot and passengers start their journey.  They are steered by the winds and as chase crew monitors their location from the ground.  Once the balloon lands the chase crew will meet them to pick up passengers and balloon.
Several hot-air balloons in the sky
Four balloons launch in quick succession.
Heart shaped hot-air balloon ready to launch
Once again, I really like this composition.