My photo blog… visual thoughts around me.

“Rising to the Occasion”


I decided to join a meet-up group to shoot the Quickcheck Balloon Festival at Solburg Airport in Whitehorse,NJ. Having seen pictures of balloon events out west, I was curious about what I would experience here on the east coast. It rained the night before and the start of the day looked bleak. Lots of overcast skies and some rain were predicted. I thought that since my destination was over an hourโ€™s drive away, maybe the weather would improve. The heavy clouds never cleared but the rain held off.

After parking my car, I took a long walk to a very large field filled with vans and trucks. Still no balloons in site. Then suddenly people came out of their vehicles, as if on cue, and unfolded large sheets of very colorful material which they spread out on the grass. Looking around, I still was not able to get a sense of what was coming next. Teams of helpers and pilots were starting to fill the deflated shapes by blowing air into them with fans. These huge fans were replaced by burners which heated up the air and made these colorful shapes rise.

And rise they did, from all over the field. The balloons transformed into many different shapes and sizes. There were balloons that took on the shape of a butterfly,cow and even a soda can. The many teams that launched these colorful wonders came from all over… Canada, out west and many from the east coast. The pilots of each balloon were very informative and gracious in answering my many inquiries. As I tried to maneuver to get a shot of the inside of these behemoths, the colors and patterns drew me in like a bug to light.

Everyone was excited to see them rise, if only to be stalled in mid-air by tethers attached to their trucks. Up, up and away was not to be this day. The cloud cover was too thick and the weather radar did not show much promise.ย  It felt like a sporting event paused in mid-air. Even though deflation was near, I did not feel deflated. This experience had lifted my spirits and left my mindโ€™s eye free to capture the possibilities by chronicling the occasion.



30 responses

  1. This post lifted my spirits too. Beautiful, colorful, bright …all conveying a joyful spirit. I witness a balloon lift-off this year but it was at night. Now I get to see the day time magic. Keep the passion alive and light our New Year with your inspiring posts. Stay blessed my friend…


    December 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

    • It was a funny day for shooting …very overcast with rain on and off. Yet all the colors sure did come out. It made for a great experience. I will try and keep up for the new year. Great to hear your comments.


      January 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm

  2. sounds like a fun event to shoot!


    October 21, 2011 at 8:32 am

    • It actually was except for the overcast sky and dodge other photogs… ๐Ÿ™‚


      October 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm

  3. Jack Mroz

    Great captures Mike. Love the array of colors. Some serious ballooners there.


    October 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

    • Yes they were serious, and from all over. What was cool is they were also easy to talk to. Thanks for looking jack.


      October 19, 2011 at 12:29 am

  4. Joanna Patterson

    Love these images. You captured lots of color and the spirit of fun that is experienced at such an occasion. Wonderful perspective. Good job, Mike
    Hope to get to a balloon fest some day myself.


    October 18, 2011 at 2:09 am

    • Thanks Joanna… I have found all these different and also free places through SJ Meetup groups. Seems to be an excellent resource for odd venues.


      October 19, 2011 at 12:27 am

  5. Bonnie Rovere

    Great perspective! Such vibrant color. Now I know why I didn’t run into you in the Catskills!


    October 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    • Believe it or not Bonnie… the day was rainy and overcast, yet the colors seemed to pop. One of these days I will get back to the Catskills.


      October 18, 2011 at 12:21 am

  6. Joanna Patterson

    Thanks again, Mike for your fantastic photos. Some day I hope to get to a balloon fest. I loved the colors and the excitement that these images represent.


    October 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    • I had a great time Joanna…. when it comes back next year I will drop you a line. Thanks for looking.


      October 18, 2011 at 12:18 am

  7. Pat


    Each image illustrated a different prospective of the festival. Beautiful! Love the way you process your images. I especially liked the image where you see the hands through the fabric.


    October 17, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    • Thanks Pat… wasn’t that a cool photo. It is one of my favorites also.


      October 18, 2011 at 12:16 am

  8. Isn’t it cool watching hot air balloons come to life? I’ve done that a couple of times before (have some old images up on Flickr). I love the barn balloon. So funny! Great shots here. ๐Ÿ™‚
    If you haven’t been to a balloon glow before, I hope you make it to one. Those are fun too!


    October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    • Thanks for sharing Cap. I will definitely find a balloon glow next year. This was my first event but not the last.


      October 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

  9. Love the photos, especially the balloon barn! ๐Ÿ˜€


    October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    • Marie… the barn, butterfly and shark were very hard to figure out when they were on the ground. In the air they were really cool. Thanks


      October 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm

  10. Linda Kamholz

    Watching that spectacle brings a smile to everyone’s face. The shots with the flames are amazing — how do those things not catch on fire? Thanks for sharing, Mike!


    October 17, 2011 at 10:09 am

    • Hey Linda… those burners are as hot as they look. Thanks for looking.


      October 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm

  11. Nice Story. Nice Pictures. Thanks Mike.


    October 17, 2011 at 9:56 am

    • Thanks Frank… glad to finally post them and shoot beside you. I love when 2 people have different takes on the same subject.


      October 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

  12. There is something uplifting (no pun intended) about hot air balloons. This brings back memories of my childhood, when my grandparents would take my brother and I to see balloon festivals in Bristol. Lovely photos.


    October 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

    • Hey puns are good. This was my first and plan to go back next year. Thanks Mike.


      October 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

  13. Great coverage, Mike. Love the guy with the WWII hat and goggles, and his space-age intercommunicating whistle around his neck. Also love the capture of the flames shooting up into the bag.


    October 17, 2011 at 9:19 am

    • That guy was such a character. He only spoke a little English as he was from Quebec and spoke only French. It was kind of neat listening to his crew.


      October 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

  14. Barbara Fallon

    I always love the your perspective. The colors and the shapes are great. My favorite is the third picture. I love the color and the shapes together. As always you talent takes my breathe away.


    October 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

    • Barb… I could have posted just shapes and abstracts, there were that many that caught my eye. You can breath easier now. ๐Ÿ™‚


      October 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

  15. as usual, you amaze me dear Sir!! :-D.. your pictures are amazing.. ๐Ÿ˜€


    October 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

    • Thanks Abby … you keep writing and I will keep shooting.


      October 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

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