We’ve given away tickets and parking passes over the years. In fact, there have been a lot of giveaways of t-shirts, posters, and festival items. This contest is for a private ride in a hot air balloon with a pilot here in Plano the week of the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival at Oak Point Park. We’re not talking about a tethered ride where you hover above the ground and descend within minutes. It’s a bucket list experience to lift-off and fly in a majestic invention that doesn’t have a steering wheel, motor or wheels. A truly unforgettable adventure that ends with a champagne toast and a prayer.
THE BALLOONIST’S PRAYER
“May the winds welcome you with softness. May the sun bless you with its warm hands. May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter And sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
The contest began last month and ends on Monday, September 17 at 8:00 p.m. CST. The date of the flight will be determined by the pilot but scheduled to take place between September 19-23 depending of course, on the weather. Must be 18 years or older to enter the Hootsuite based campaign that will randomly select the winner to be contacted and announced on Facebook and social media channels. The terms and conditions are detailed within the contest form. Are you ready to take flight?
Have you registered for one of the Plano Balloon Festival Races? If not, you’ll want to sign-up soon before your spot is gone. If you have registered and live in the metroplex, you can pick-up race packets from the Plano Running Club at the Plano Event Center at 2000 E. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano. They will be in the Spring Glade room on the east side of the building at these times:
Thursday, Sept 20 – 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM Friday, Sept 21 – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday, Sept 22 – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
“We try to participate in as many local events as possible,” says Plano Running Club member Shirley Barbaro. “Plano Balloon Festival is the biggest and most well-known event taking place in Plano each year. I cannot think of a better opportunity to serve our community than volunteering in some way.”
Dallas-based visual artist and photographer Stephanie Johnson offers these professional tips for taking photographs of hot air balloons at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival:
#1 PLAN YOUR VISIT IN ADVANCE
Community events gather large crowds, so go in with a game plan. Know where you’ll park and where you’ll predominantly want to be. Be sure to plan what you’ll bring versus what you will not want to weigh you down.
Plan your gear choices being sure to limit your lenses to less than a few multifocal lenses versus too many prime ones. The ability to follow along a balloon will be helpful when things start moving quickly. Also, be sure to pack a tripod or monopod. The most photographed times of morning or sundown when the balloonsare wanting to be “glowing” the tripod or monopod can help greatly with camera stabilization in low lightatmospheres.
Walkable, comfortable clothing and shoes will be something you thank yourself for doing.
#2 ARRIVE AS EARLY AS YOUR SCHEDULE WILL ALLOW
Not only does this help with being able to catch set up, it allows you the opportunity to scope the balloons that will be around.
Focus on a few in a close area to watch through take off so you don’t miss any of the potential photographs that come from that time. You don’t want to be caught up in a crowd when you could be capturing a greatmoment.
#3 IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LENS TO TAKE
If you can only manage to have one lens with you on your camera then go as wide as you can. A kit lens (one that comes with your camera) is often an 1855 and that gives you a good, standard range to play with. Honestly, the less to carry in your bag, the less you have to deal with and the less chance you have of missing a good moment because of lens change.
Remember that these balloons are much larger than many people realize (until they see them up close) soyou would hate to get there and have equipment that keeps you from capturing the whole of themagnificence.
#4 BE AWARE OF THE SUN
Whether you want the glow to go through the balloon from behind, or to reflect onto it directly, you’ll have tobe aware of the big bulb in the sky. Photography is an active and anticipatory process so being aware of where things are headed can help you grab a great photo at the right time.
There will be many levels of light from morning to night so you will have to be able to anticipate and adjust your settings accordingly.
#5 KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
Because of the large amount of people and equipment at an event of this magnitude, it is important to not gettoo caught up in it all. It can be really easy to be so into the act of photographing that you fail to notice ropes, cords, holes in the ground, etc.
#6 TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
Wear sunscreen and be sure to stay hydrated. Even on a cooler day, a lot of time outdoors with the sun and crowds can be quite harsh on the body. Be sure to take care of you.
Find out more about Stephanie Johnson, an award-winning photojournalist, by visiting www.SJohnsonArt.com. The 2016 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival will be held September 23-25 at Oak Point Park and tickets are available www.planoballoonfest.org.