3am and the iPhone is ringing. It's not a wrong number, but the alarm clock. What about Fathers' Day? Shouldn't the dads among us be allowed to sleep in just this one day of the year?
No such luck. It's day two of Derrick Story's TDS Balloon Festival Workshop in Santa Rosa, California, and that means we're up for Dawn Patrol - the pre-sunrise launch at the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic. We eight photographers rendezvous at a local parking lot and get to Keiser Park with all our gear just barely in time for Act I, the choreographed inflation, takeoff and departure of the first four balloons.
"Heat Wave" by Conrado Gonzalez.To see the complete set of images, go to the TDS Flickr page.
As the sun continued to rise, another dozen balloons were spread onto huge tarps, attached to their baskets, inflated and launched. The crews were remarkably willing to let us get in close to shoot - close enough to feel the heat from the propane burners as the pilots filled the balloons with hot air.
After the first round cleared the launch area, and then another, a third group readied for takeoff. But by then the winds had picked up. It didn't take much for the balloons to become real handfuls and for their crews to finally keep us a bit farther away as they wrestled with their unpredictable behemoths. Finally, around 8am, all of the remaining pilots decided it was too windy, and repacked the balloons and baskets into their trailers. Even the tethered balloon rides for the day were canceled.
"Daddy Wake Up" by Rohith Thumati. To see the complete set of images, go to the TDS Flickr page.
With a few hundred shots apiece, we headed back to Derrick's studio/classroom for post-production, peer review and breakfast pizza. Yet another perfect workshop weekend.
If you'd like to join us for the TDS Fall Photography Workshop (Oct. 15-16), send me email requesting to be placed on the reserved list. I'll get right back to you.