It's already JUNE! We say it every year - that time flies - but it is so true and in the blink of an eye we are almost at the half-way point to 2017.
June was kicked off in high adventure, as I went to photograph the annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival (#tvbwf2017) at Lake Skinner, and as part of the media press, got to RIDE one of the hot air balloons for the first time!
The balloon went up fast and in seconds we were about 2,600 feet above the Temecula Valley and most of the cloud covers. It was truly exhilarating yet scary. There is no safety belt or tether to the balloon basket, so any false move would mean a quick bye-bye! In a basket the size of a standard hotel shower, you learn to lean and control your body very quickly, and never with all three heavy male passengers in the same direction at the same time! Once we got to the top of our ascend, it was probably one of the quietest and most peaceful places I've ever been to in my life. There's no sound that high in the air, save for the whooshing of the hot air balloon and nervous small chatter among the 3 of us balloon riders.
And the view. The view was just stunning and spectacular! In every direction I saw unending horizon lines, a maturing sunrise slowly melting away the grey clouds, about a handful of balloons rising at different speeds and distances from us, the wide open spaces, vineyards, ranch homes in Wine Country as the backdrop to photos, and of course Lake Skinner where the festival took place. As the sun rose, the shadows on the ground changed dramatically. Our balloon came down pretty low at one point, almost touching the tree branches before bouncing away towards the top of the lake. I didn't have previous experience photographing from my vantage point, so all I did was "spray and pray", hoping that I got some epic shots along the way, but never getting too close to the edge of the basket. I did change lens a couple of times to get some telephoto shots, but every time I did that I got real nervous, scared that either the lens, camera or myself would fall out of the basket when I wasn't paying attention.
While riding the hot air balloon was definitely the highlight, there were many other epic photo-ops during the weekend: morning lake reflections of balloon launch, tethered balloon rises, evening synchronized balloon "glow", photographing mini rock concerts from the pit and backstage, street photography of the food & people of the festival, and branding shots of wines at the wine garden. For a photographer who likes to experiment with different genres of photography, this event is perfect for that. I took over 800 images in 2 days, and took about a week to process them and narrow down to 280. Landscape photography, aerial photography, night photography, concert photography, street photography, product photography, portrait photography, even some nature photography. It's all there!
I usually bring photography to an event, but this festival took the event to my photography, and opened my mind to more worlds of exploration.
So if you haven't seen some of the images from the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival of 2017, here are some of my favorites...http://jimmyfu.zenfolio.com/p1035746947