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Review of Hot Air Balloon, Mareeba

This was not my first flight in a hot air balloon, but the last time I was 12 years old and wasn’t into photography. So I was very excited for this unique opportunity, even at 4am. Aerial photography is something I love to do, but I don’t get the opportunity very often. Yes a drone is high on the list of equipment that I want to buy, but just can’t afford it yet. So despite being told by a friend that I wouldn’t have space for two camera’s, I brought along my Canon EOS R with Sigma 10-20mm, Canon 7D with Canon 100-400mm, and my iPhone 11.

Before we got in the basket we had some time to take pictures of the sunrise, whilst they set up the balloon. Of course the balloon made a great foreground subject and I quickly grabbed my tripod from the bus. Playing around with HDR and long exposures I was able to get some interesting shots.

Once the balloon was standing it was time for the 24 passengers and pilot to get in. I was still in the middle of a long exposure so was one of the last in the basket. This turned out to be a good thing though as I was at the end of the basket and got corner views.

There wasn’t much wind so we didn’t move too fast. This was perfect for photography, especially in the low light of the morning. However I still needed to use a reasonably fast shutter speed of 1/500 to get everything sharp. This meant that I needed to use a high ISO for the first part of the trip. As the sun came up and we got more light I was able to drop this and increase my shutter speed.

The flight was peaceful and absolutely beautiful scenery. We had a great pilot who gave us a lot of information about what we were looking at as well as information on ballooning. Take off and landing were both very smooth, and in fact a little bit boring. Helping to pack up the balloon was fun, it was like rolling up a giant tent. It was a moment where I wanted to cut myself in half, so I could take part in the packing up, but also photograph the process. I did manage to take a few photos on both my phone and cameras but I wish I had more.

Overall it was a great morning, with great people and some great photos. If you want to do things like this check out my blog on why you should join a photography club. For reviews of other things to do around Cairns, click here. Or to book your hot air balloon ride check out the company we flew with.


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