I’ve taken photos of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta before, shooting mass ascents from near the Observatory above Clifton Suspension Bridge but I’d never been to the actual event in Ashton Court. So last Thursday (9 August) was my first time. I had my Hasselblad H1, three lenses and a lightweight tripod. I particularly wanted to get photos of the night glow – I knew that would be challenge on film, and it certainly was.
There was also supposed to be a mass ascent at 6.00pm, but the wind was too strong for balloons to fly. A shame, but not unexpected given the conditions.
And then to the night glow. This was tough to shoot on film for a number of reasons.
- The venue was absolutely jam packed. It was going to be very difficult to find a spot where I had a clear shot and enough room to set up the tripod.
- In order to try to get a clear shot I had to go as high up the bank flanking the balloon launch field as I could, which meant that I had to use a reasonably long lens – the only telephoto I have is the 150mm so that had to do.
- I was shooting Provia 100F, which I planned to rate at ISO 400 and push in development. But even shot at 400 the shutter speed was 1/20th sec at the widest aperture of the 150mm, f3.2. I was using the lightweight tripod more like a monopod than a tripod and camera shake and mirror slap was a real possibility at 1/20th sec.
- Shooting transparency film meant that I had to get the exposure nailed dead on because of its limited exposure latitude. I used the spot meter of the H1’s viewfinder to get the shutters speed and then shot in manual.
So when I developed the film I wasn’t really expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised.
So…it was quite an experience and I was very pleased with the shots I managed to get in the end.