Inflating the balloon

Inflating the canopy of a hot-air balloon, Grove City, Ohio.

The story: Full of hot air

Each August Grove City, Ohio, hosts a balloon festival with loads of photo opportunities. I enjoy shooting "the glow" – an after-sunset event when balloons are tied down and inflated. The flames from the propane burners illuminate each balloon from within. This creates a collection of giant, colorful, glowing bulbs standing tall against the night sky.

I have a number of nice shots taken during the glow. But they rank well behind this image, taken in August 2008, on my list of favorites.

I was in a perfect position as the crew began heating the canopy shortly before sunset. The starburst design at the base of the canopy filled my viewfinder and I timed the exposure to catch the flame heating the air inside the canopy.

I liked what I saw through the viewfinder and what I saw on the camera’s display. When I saw the image on my computer that evening it quickly became one of my favorites. The color, the composition and the action all work for me.

This image was shot with a Canon EOS 40D and a Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens set at 120mm. The exposure was 1/640th of a second at f/5.6 and ISO400.