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.

Travel Photography – House Creek at Cherry Grove Beach, SC

House-Creek-View
This is a view of the House Creek marsh from our Balcony.

This is the first visit to Cherry Grove Beach for me and my family.  We are here for vacation and have enjoyed getting away and slowing down the pace of life for a few days.  Our hotel fronts on the Atlantic Ocean but has a wonderful view of a tidal marsh area behind the hotel.  This tidal waterway is named House Creek.  It plays host to water fowl and a variety of other wild life.  The creek is never the same twice since it’s water level is constantly changing with the flow of the tides.

Crane-low-tide
A crane stands on the exposed land at low tide.

I went to the marsh just after sunrise hoping to get some photos in the early morning light.  I did manage to find some wild life to photograph but I did not find the early morning landscape photo I was hoping for.  Still this was a successful outing simply because I was able to experience a new place and had photography opportunities that I do not have at home.

House-Creek-Water-Fowl
Water fowl taking flight at House Creek

That evening we had a few thunderstorms passing to our north.  The photograph below shows one of those storms building in the distance.

Distant-Thunderstorm
Thunderstorms build in the distance. Photo taken from our hotel balcony.

Nature Photography – Blue Ridge Parkway

Below are more images from my drive along a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  These photos were taken in and around the Doughton Park area.  We also stopped and photographed a small pond just north of the park but I do not remember the name of the pond.

Open field Doughton Park
A photo of an open field at Doughton Park.
Doughton Park Rock Outcropping Landscape
Same field, just a different perspective with the rock outcropping in the foreground.
Landsacpe Photo Doughton Park
This photo was also taken at Doughton Park. You can see one of the balds in the distance.
Blue Ridge Parkway Mountain View
Layer of mountains fade into the distance. This photo was taken at Doughton Park at one of the many overlooks within the park and along the parkway.
Blue-Ridge-Parkway-Pond
Small pond just off the parkway.
Blue Ridge Parkway Pond
Same pond from a different vantage point. The water was really calm and still.
Blue Ridge Parkway Pond
Portrait view so I could include a bit of the sky. By this time is was getting later in the evening.