How to get that Insta-worthy shot at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular | HerCanberra

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How to get that Insta-worthy shot at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular

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Looking for that ‘gram-worthy shot of hot air balloons drifting gracefully across the lake?

We don’t blame you. From this weekend the Canberra Balloon Spectacular will turn the skyline into a sea of colour and movement until Sunday 17 March, and it’s the perfect excuse to whip out your phone (or camera) and get snapping.

Luckily, Canberra photographer Snaps by Sal has four key tips that will make the early rise absolutely worth it (because she is NOT a morning person).

Set an alarm for 6.15 am

The first point-of-call for any photographers wanting to catch a sight of the fleet of balloons taking to the skies, is heading to the EventsACT and Enlighten website and socials to see the notification on whether balloons are flying or tethering. This is posted at 6.15 am.

If flying, balloons will normally head out over the lake towards the Arboretum from 7 am. If the weather is strange, updates on altered flying paths can be found on the same sites as the initial flying information. If tethering, some balloons will stay at the launch zone near the National Library.

Be equipped

The best camera is the one you have with you. Phone cameras are fabulous bits of technology nowadays, or alternatively taking a DSLR is great—so long as your batteries are charged and SD cards are at the ready the night before (so it isn’t an early morning rush).

A warm coat, good shoes, a coffee in a flask and a tripod are all handy options, that can help with comfort and quality of photos!

Do the loading zone, at least once

Seeing the balloons inflate and take off is a must, at least once, for photographers and the whole family alike. The rush of hot flame, the colorful fabric turning into shapes, and gasps of littlies as everything starts to come alive, it is a beautiful experience and worth heading down to the grounds just near the National Library on the lake side from 6.15 am. You can grab some brekkie afterwards and really make a morning of the location.

Location, location, location

The best location really is dictated by the winds, and the flight path of the balloons. Some options to consider are:

  • Regatta Point
  • The National Museum
  • Black Mountain Peninsula
  • Yarralumla Bay/ Lennox Gardens.
  • National Arboretum
  • Red Hill or Mt Ainslie

I normally get to one location a morning, maybe two if I am lucky. Don’t be scared to try a new spot, or disappointed if you don’t get to everywhere all at once!

What to look out for – and snap!

Kids and animals are at their best in balloon photos when they are looking anywhere other than at the camera. Get the smiles, and the “wooooow”. Even snap the head tilt from your pup, who might be confused about Buster the big bulldog, who will be gracing the skies this year.

There are lots of framing options for balloons, silhouettes of onlookers are great, it gives perspective to the shot. You can also look for closeups of the flame, a bird flying high with the fleet, or try and fit as many balloons as possible into the single frame. A wide angle is worthwhile, due to the size of balloons and wanting to fit as many humans/balloons/landscape components as possible into a shot.

Be careful to make sure you are focusing on the balloons; this gets trickier the further away they are in the sky. Otherwise, have fun snapping, and revel in the early morning Canberra autumn glow!

Photography: @snapsbysal

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