The sun was just starting to rise as Image Hero's owner Jonathen E. Davis exited the freeway. The conversation was punctuated in the way that only the quiet of an early morning could cause.
My name is Lisa Swank and I'm the Director of Communication of Image Hero – it's my job to plan and organize jobs. Or in this case, plan and organize a casual fun shoot. Directions? Check. Knowledge of the day's weather and the location? Check. Coffee? Of course.
Our goal was to catch sunrise at the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival and for the 6:30 am launch of the balloons. Usually, I would have booked a campsite or organized a stay close by but it was only the night before that I had read about it and, well, here we were. We always keep our camera batteries charged for days like this.
As we parked and walked to the festival, we could see the hot air balloons half full on the ground, the dawn twilight revealing only dark shapes against the a golden sky. A Google Earth visit to the area had revealed the best location to capture what we were looking for- the image of hot air balloons reflecting colorful orbs in Lake Skinner. Of course, the saying goes about mice and men and plans- that location was not available for access that morning, so it was plan B.
Plan B is a quick scope of the area and a half jog down a hiking trail to the water's edge. We are mobile workers, Jonathen and I, carrying our gear so we can move as conditions or the subject changes. We picked our perspective locations before taking even a single photo, adjusting settings in our cameras to work with the light of the rising sun.
Then, the launch! The balloons drifting through the cool morning, up and up and…only straight up. They didn't appear to be moving toward the lake. Undeterred, we began gathering images. Reflections or not, it was a beautiful sight. A few minutes later, a single balloon began to drift to the middle of Lake Skinner.
"What is he doing?" a concerned woman asked, "Is he gonna land in the lake?"
The balloon dipped lower in the hands of an, obviously talented, pilot who skillfully hovered about ten feet above the water. Jonathen moved quickly to the shore to line up a shot while I moved behind a stand of reeds that framed the shot. A few moments later and the balloon drifted up and away from the lake, it was the one and only chance this morning to get the shot.