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Hotspur.us » Balloons


So I’ve been in Morgantown since 1992 and in all that time I have never ever managed to see the hot air balloons ascend in mass. Back in college it surely had to do with me being not terribly inclined to get out of bed before dawn to watch balloons. Post-college it most likely had to do with me being not terribly inclined to get out of bed before dawn to watch balloons AND me not remembering when the heck the Mountaineer Balloon Festival was scheduled.

Well this year was different. Oh yes. Different (actually this year has been entirely as different as possible in a whole host of ways) because I knew when the MBF was and I happened to be in town (although I was not supposed to be).  I also managed to remember to set my alarm to get up so I could drive like a maniac to Mylan Park only to find out that there was no way the balloons were going to launch at 7:30 Saturday morning due to the fog.  And it was wet, but that was just an issue for me and my not-waterproof 16 year old Doc Martens.  (Anyway, the delay meant I had time for a schmagel at Sheetz and a GIANT cup of coffee before the balloons got about the business of inflating. It also meant I drove around and took some random photos)

And this is where I mention how I choose poorly when it came to my location. First off, i think I was one of the few people who actually paid to park. Everyone else had just pulled off the side of the road near the FCX Lane sign. Me? I felt a little guilty and so I paid to park. That wasn’t the poor choice. The poor choice was when I decided I’d climb the hill and take my shots from the Mylan Park (and not the road) side. This was dumb for oh so many reasons.

  1. I parked as far as possible from where I ended up taking photos
  2. I wasn’t really dressed for a hike through dew laden grass (please see 16 year old Doc Martens)
  3. The sun was in front of me (well, ok. the sun was behind the clouds which were in front of me – see below).

Did I mention it had been foggy? Oh yes. And cloudy. And you know what does not make a great background if you want to see anything BUT silhouettes? A huge bank of clouds lit by an early morning sun. And I should have known better. It isn’t like this is the first time I have taken a photo. But by the time I puzzled it out (note to self: next time use Big Gulp size cup for coffee)  and realized I was not going to get much in the way of good photos, the balloons were starting take off.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out that while I shot and shot and shot, what I got were  100+ raw images of balloon silhouettes.  Some days it does not pay to be me.

But it just so happens that there was a second mass ascention scheduled for 4:30 that afternoon. Which boded well for me.  As long as the weather held and it didn’t rain.  And surprisingly enough, the weather did hold. The sky was a stunning blue and the evil wretched clouds had drifted off to bother someone else.  

 So once again I found myself barreling out to Mylan Park only to come to a screeching halt as there were small children and people walking in the road, cars were parked along both sides of the street and I was begining to worry that the small green stamp on my hand (you know the one I got for paying to park?) may be just a little too faded for the guy controlling the parking to see.  And that’s when it became apparent that it really does pay to wear an unusual coat.  The guy directing traffic and taking money recognized me (or most likely my long, metallic blue coat) from the morning.  I saw that with great confidence because as I stuck my hand out with the tiny smudge of green and said pitifully, “I was here this morning but my stamp is mostly gone…” he looked from my hand to my coat and said, “Oh yeah, I saw you this morning.”  NICE. Because honestly, I was so not paying to park twice.

Once again I took up my spot on the Mylan Park side of the hill (the sun being behind me and the sky being blue this time) and proceeded to get some very nice, crisp, pretty shots. 

This time I moved around a little and ended up on the hillside where a fellow photo-taker (because I’m not a photographer in any sense of the word) started quizzing me about where the balloons were going.  So there I am, on the side of a hill with my slightly expenisive camera (and not much in the way of gracefullness) trying to shoot and answer questions.  Seriously dude, stop asking me questions. I don’t know squat about balloons and I’m clumsy.  Go. Away. Please. Thank you.

Enjoy the pics.

chris on November 4th 2009 in Galleries

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