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One festival that I always look forward to each summer is the Jamesville Balloon Fest! As miserable as it may sound, I have always had these fond memories of waking up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to drive out to Jamesville to see these colorful, wondrous balloons float above the horizon. Its remarkable to me that filling those bags with hot air will be able to pick up a few people hundreds of feet into the air.

So this morning, my Dad and I left the house at 5:30 to catch the launch at 6. It was one of the earliest mornings I have had all summer. The morning was so beautiful. There was this thick fog that just engulfed parts of the city and the surrounding hillsides. Above the fog was a beautifully clear sky that was slowly being warmed with the color of the sun. I knew then that it was going to be a perfect morning for a launch and some good pictures! And I wasn’t the only one with that idea. When we got there, just about every other person was running around with DSLR. Apparently they all too had aspirations of catching these beautifully colored shapes floating against the morning blue sky. We had come at a perfect time too as most of the balloonists had just unrolled their prizes and were opening them up by filling them with air from a fan. You can see in some of these shots the scale of these balloons as you see some people keeping that hole open to let the air in. They were massive. Once the balloon was filled with enough air, they were safely able to fit the burner in there which would inject all of the hot air and cause the balloon to become upright. Once it was upright, 4-6 people would pile in the basket and they would float away! The first few times the balloons launched, my dad and I thought they had failed because after only a minute, they would start to sink right beyond the trees. We learned later that they were sinking just to skim the bottom of their basket on the lake. Once we hear of that challenge, we ran over to the lake to try to find a few balloons attempting this. It was cool to see them do this in the early morning because the water was so still that the balloon cast a perfect reflection on the water!

I hope you all enjoy the vibrant colors of these balloons and try to make it out to the last launch tonight at 6!

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 and my 28-75mm f/2.8 lens.


lens rental



We pushed it off until our last morning at Del Ray, but we finally woke up before the sun in order to go to the beach to watch it rise over the Atlantic! It was gorgeous. It was so serene being on the coast that early in the morning.  It was before the town had waken up to go to work, and before the birds had come out to sing, and before cars were zooming by on the highway.  It was just us, the ocean, and the warm sunlight slowly peaking over the horizon. All we heard was the crashing of the waves against the shore, and as you can see, some of them crashed pretty hard.  We were standing right on a bank above where the ocean had chipped away at the loose sand and so we were about a foot and a half above the tide but every once and a while with the big waves, the water would come up and crash over the bank we were standing on.  One time the water even came up and swallowed my flip flops and if it weren’t for Justin quickly grabbing them before they got pulled into the sea, they would be half way to the bahamas by now. I was more worried about the salt water splashing up against my camera as it sat on its tripod. We had gotten there about a half hour before the sun rose so I had some time to set up my camera on the tripod and figure out my exposure.  I then just sat there with my remote shutter release and just snapped away, occasionally checking the exposure, and just watch the sunrise with everyone else. It was really neat seeing the transition of the day into night once again as the light from the sun filled the sky. People started waking up and going to work, the birds started chirping, and the noise of the crashing waves was joined by the motoring of cars as the passed by on the highway.

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 at 28mm on my 28-75 2.8 at f/11 ISO 100 and 1/160s.








14 hours was all it took of straight driving through the night to make it to Daytona for the sun rise. And to be honest, the sunrise was kind of disappointing. There was very thick cloud cover, and the clouds didn’t absorb the colors of the rays as much as they just blocked the sun completely until all of a sudden it was light out. There were a few strokes of brilliant color, but not enough to really compose a very dramatic scene. I was really excited about this shoot because it was one of my first experiences with my brand new Nikon D600. In fact, the extra hour we had between arriving in Daytona and the suns expected arrival, I couldn’t even sleep, but instead messed around with some of my camera settings to make sure I was as prepared as I could be during the short window of time that was the sun rise. Before the sun rose, I was even able to test out some of the capabilities of my camera in very low light situations. The first shot you see here was one that just made me know I made the right decision to upgrade to a full frame sensor as soon as I could. I shot that at ISO 400 with f/5.0 and shutter speed of .3 s on a tripod. I was also able to experiment with the mirror lock up and remote shooting settings to reduce camera shake even more. I was just blown away when I saw the result in the viewfinder. Soon after, the sun began to rise and so I went and focused my attention on trying to grab those colors, But as I mentioned, unfortunately the colors weren’t as stunning as I was hoping, However, the phenomenon of seeing the world turn slowly from night into day was an amazing experience. That led me up to the pier to see all of the early morning fishermen who were trying either catch their lunch or catch their living off the pier of the boardwalk. There were both professionals and hobbyists up there and they were catching quite a few fish. It was really awesome capturing these men in there environment just doing something they were passionate about and in such a cool setting. The best part about this photo outting was that I was done by about 7:30 and still had the rest of the day to do stuff in Daytona and Orlando such as check out a local coffee shop, visit the Daytona speedway, visit Full Sail University, visit Relevant Media Groups headquarters and talk to one of my biggest role models, Cameron Strang, go thrift shopping, check out a few of Orlandos finest malls, and finish of the day by watching my first ever live NBA game in the Amway center (and all of this was done on less than an hour of sleep). This break has been incredible already and its barely just begun. Most of my friends haven’t even arrived in Florida yet!