Little kid, big fire

| Tuesday, February 17, 2009

from flickr user St Paul Paul
The photographer says: Balloonists met recently in Hudson, Wisconsin, for the Hudson Hot Air Affair ... part of Hudson's annual winter festival.

It was too windy to launch balloons on Saturday night, so instead the pilots treated the crowds to something called a "Field of Fire." Basically they set up their baskets in the field next to a local school and then for the next hour or so lit up their burners (and, as you can see, sometimes let kids do it) ... in a glorious roaring technicolor paean to pyromania.

It was beautiful! And it was HOT! And it was a nightmare to set your camera for! If you got the exposure for the fire just right, the people were way too dark. And if the people were just right, then the flames were too bright. Oh, and as soon as you got one balloonist looking good, six others would fire off at the same time and the whole scene's lighting would change.

Eventually I just used a scattershot approach. I shot RAW, kept tweaking my exposure, occasionally used my flash ... and prayed!