Soaring through the sky on a hot air balloon is a bucket list experience for almost everyone. This is a moment you want to capture great photos to be able to look back at the memories and to share them with your friends. These excursions have a number of factors that make it challenging to get the perfect photo. Each hot air balloon experience can be little different based on size, location, time of year, etc. I have taken 2 hot air balloons one in Cappadocia, Turkey and the other in Napa Valley, California. Each time I wish there were things I had done different to set myself up for a better capture. Here is a guide of things you should know and prepare for if you want that killer shot floating in the sky.
1. Wear a Hat or Headband
There are a couple different reasons why covering your head might be helpful. First, in smaller hot air balloons your head will be right beneath the flames that create lift to make the balloon rise. There is enough distance that your hair wouldn’t burn off, but your head can get warm and your hair will get oily from the heat. Second, your hair will go through many different atmospheric areas. Most hot air balloon rides are at sunrise so temperatures and pressure change quickly. This may not be an issue if you have naturally straight sleek perfect hair. If you have wild wavy hair like me, curling or straightening it is a lost cause.
2. Bring glasses Or Sunglasses
This is not a must but a good option. Since many hot air balloon rides are earlier than 6am sometimes your face hasn’t woken up yet. Each time I took a ride I had large bags under my eyes from little sleep. The change in temperatures and pressures during the ride have an effect on your skin as well. Sunglasses can also be ideal to protect your eyes from the brightness as the sun continues to rise.
3. Dress Warm
Typically rides are pretty cold. I did not dress warm enough for my first ride. My smiles were just trying to hide the fact I couldn’t feel my hands. Early mornings and higher elevation make for a chilly trip. It is hard to thoroughly enjoy the experience when you are frigid. Also note, that photos will probably only be shot from the chest up. There will not be enough space in the basket to capture a full outfit and the composition.
4. Have extra batteries
Cold temperatures effect camera and cell phone batteries especially if they are older models. I brought a portable charger for my iPhone that did die during the ride due to the cold so I am really happy I thought ahead. The worst thing would be to not have any phones because of a dead battery.
5. Bring a serious selfie stick
Do not take the word serious lightly. It needs to a sturdy selfie stick if you are going to use it. Something like a GoPro or an extremely high quality piece of equipment. Do not chance sticking your device out of the basket on a dollar store selfie stick. I personally didn’t bring one on either of my ventures but I saw other people with them. There is not much room in the baskets to move around so it can be challenging to match the right angles and composition. A selfie stick can help you find the sweet spot for your perfect shot.