Chasing balloons, Part 2

After the excitement of the night before, I’m a little sleep-deprived but thrilled to be back at the balloon field early the next morning. Again, the balloon pilots and crews are happy for us to tag along and take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.



The Limoneira Lemon is first balloon to be inflated and take flight.






I’m surprised how fast the balloons move once they take off.


I use the longest lens I have (55-200mm) and my legs to keep up with the action. Today, I’m really chasing after the balloons. Too much looking upward – I almost fall over several times. But I’m so happy and wow, the sky is gorgeous.

I can’t help thinking and smiling: I AM REALLY HERE.





This balloon had a pilot but no basket. This balloon has a pilot but no basket.






DSCF9097smI call this one ‘The Big Green Onion’.



DSCF9184smEveryone holding a camera wants to squeeze in to take their shots. Everyone has a great time when no one’s a jerk. No jerks here, which is awesome.



DSCF9222smA palm tree balloon floats above the palm trees.


The balloon flights end late morning, and after the hot air ballooning workshop finishes up and we’ve said our good-byes, I stay on at the festival until late afternoon. The balloons won’t be re-inflated until the evening’s balloon glow, and I briefly contemplate hanging around, but I’m tired from being on my feet carrying a backpack of camera gear since so early this morning (and on very little sleep the night before!). As I’ll be leaving Santa Paula tomorrow and flying to San Francisco, I decide to return to the Santa Paula Inn for a rest before dinner somewhere in town. After chasing balloons since sunrise, I can’t wait to kick off my shoes and relax for a while. I rarely do ‘nothing’ on trips/holidays, but I know my physical limits and always make sure to rest and recharge (me and my camera batteries).

I call a taxi to take me back to the Inn. When it turns up, it’s the same driver who dropped me off the day before.
“Hey, the Australian!” He exclaims, and we both laugh. “Guuurrrrl, you having fun here in Santa Paula?”

Oh yeah. I’m had great fun.

DSCF8698smToday, there are vintage trailers and cars to photograph too.



What would you keep inside your Pleasure Chest? What would you keep inside your Pleasure Chest?

DSCF9278smI don’t know a thing about cars. But they’re fun to photograph.






DSCF9245smI’m not going to miss out on food a second time!

Roasted corn on the cobButtered fire roasted corn on the cob – sweet and bursty.





Fish taco Fish taco – hot crispy battered fish, fresh lettuce, tomato and garlicky sauce all in a soft tortilla.





Shave ice - lime and grapeLime and grape shave ice – very refreshing.

DSCF9353smAnother way to reach the sky…

Buckaroo Pony Rides







I didn’t know what the hot air balloon festival would be like when I booked my place on the photography workshop and planned my trip – I had a great time!

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival

  • The 2014 festival was held on 25 and 26 July.
  • The festival was held at the Limoneira Soccer Fields, off Highway 126 in Santa Paula (18249 East Telegraph Road), California, USA.
  • Friday 25 July (6pm to 11pm) included carnival games, food stalls, live music, Sunset Wine Dinner (tickets sold separately), Evening Balloon Glow
  • Saturday 26 July (6.30am to 11pm) included Sunrise Balloons, tethered balloon rides, vintage car display, carnival games, food stalls, live music, Craft Beer Dinner (tickets sold separately), Evening Balloon Glow
  • Friday tickets cost US$12 (adults)/US$5 (youth)
  • Saturday tickets cost US$15 (adults)/ US$5 (youth)
  • Balloon inflations/ascensions are dependent on the weather.

Jansen Photo Expeditions

  • Husband and wife team Mark Jansen and Holly Higbee-Jansen specialise in small group photography workshops and tours throughout California and beyond.
  • The hot air ballooning workshop was USD$205. Our workshop passes got us half-price entry to the two days of the festival.
  • We met up in the afternoon on the Friday to explore adjacent farmland, photographing old barns, tractors and equipment, then moved on to the balloon festival (See Chasing balloons, Part 1). We met up again early on Saturday morning.
  • I enjoyed the workshop, which was hands-on and provided excellent opportunities to get in close to capture the action. Mark and Holly were available to instruct us and offer technical advice/assistance, and while our workshop group stayed in contact, we were free to move around the balloon field and immerse ourselves in the experience. I’m pretty chuffed with the photos I took over the two days of the workshop/festival.

My solo USA trip (2014) – about this series

I travelled alone to the United States from late July to mid-August. This trip covered California, Wyoming and Colorado. The primary reason for the trip was to attend a couple of workshops, one on hot air balloon photography and the other on photographing wild horses and cowboys. I also caught up with an old school friend.

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  • Craig Hind

    Very cool. I love the colours of the balloons and particularly like the yellow ones for some reason!

    For some reason when I see that guy without the basket I think of the movie Up, and think he should be sitting in a deck chair. :-)

    • A deck chair might make for a better landing anyway! I can’t wait to someday photograph the balloon festival at Albuquerque – as colourful but a much larger number of balloons.

  • I’m loving your balloon photos – the colours are just so vibrant.

    • Cheers. I had a great time taking the photos. Can’t wait to share all the balloon pictures from Myanmar! :D

  • Peta Titcomb

    absolutely beautiful photos! well done, and it looks like such fun!