I skipped the event last year. Having shot the 2010 and 2011 editions and noticed that there were only a few new hot air balloons, I decided to give it a year off and hopefully the next time I attend there will be a lot of new attractions. The hiatus served me well. I was glad to be back.
There were indeed a lot of new balloons, but also a lot of old ones, those who I now consider to be mainstays. This year's venue is also new - the Omni Aviation grounds - which I totally dislike. The parking is a loooooong walk (about 750 meters) from the balloon flight location, and the place is REALLY dusty. No exaggeration, but you should wear shoes and shades. Give your feet and eyes some mercy. If you're bringing kids with you, make sure they're amenable to the hassle. Now it's a whole new mess if it rains.
I also noticed how expensive the tickets have become.They now go for 250 pesos (I remember it was 150 last time) and to be honest, I don't think it was worth it. Not with that trek from the parking that they forced on the public. On the other hand, I love that they've added a new attraction : the Breitling Jet Team exhibition. For me, it was the best thing about the event. It could have been the centerpiece. Besides, there were a lot of hot air balloons that failed to take flight on the day I went there (the first day).
Without further ado, here are my photos from this year's Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Angeles, Pampanga :
And now, the magnificent Breitling Jet Team exhibition :
I've already gotten a couple of questions about what gear I used for the jet photos. To answer, I used a Canon 60D and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. I didn't use a teleconverter (I don't have one).
And no, I didn't have a photographer's pass. I took these photos from the public viewing area. But I'd like to thank Tynn Daez for recognizing me in the dark (at 5AM) while I was looking for a spot, calling me, and sharing his shooting space. I got lucky. All those dust notwithstanding.
Thanks for viewing. I hope you liked it. =)
February. You know what happens. You'd think of Valentine's first, but it's what comes immediately after that I also look forward to : the annual International Pyromusical Competition in Mall of Asia. I've been seeing this thing since 2006 and shooting it since 2008. Year-after-year (except 2009 when I was out of the country). I. Just. Love. Fireworks.
No matter what I do to shoot these fireballs, no matter how quick I become in anticipating the bursts, no matter how good the angle and view I get for the shots, one thing remains : no photo can come close in giving the viewer the same amazement you get when you view the show live. Nothing beats being actually there to witness those colorful blooms and hear the big booms. The grandness of it all is spectacular.
At least for me.
Anyway, this year I did something different. I wanted my wife and baby to be there with me, but since we can't have 8-month-old Seven in that big crowd just yet, I decided to book a room at Microtel Hotel and Resorts, inside the MOA complex and a few hundred meters from the Pyromusical stage. I specifically requested a room with an unobstructed view of the fireworks. Turned out to be a good decision after all. We got settled in a few hours before the show, we didn't have to weave our way through the thick crowd, I didn't have to camp early for a good shooting spot, and best of all, we didn't have to deal with the horrendous traffic going home (to compound matters, there was a concert in Mall of Asia Arena by a one-hit-wonder Korean "rap" artist).
The only thing I didn't like? The smudged window glass. I tried to wipe it clean from the inside, but alas the outside surface was the culprit. Couldn't open it too, so I had to shoot through a smeared glass. It was worth a try.
As for the fireworks, there weren't a lot of new things I saw. Common burst patterns and colors I've seen and captured in the past, except for a few cute innovations : one, a waterfall effect, and two, pyro with a rocket-like take-off that would stop mid-air for a second, then continue shooting upwards. Japan performed first, which we really liked, and Finland came next, which was ho-hum until the finale.
The photos :
A pair of fillers :
I hope to see another night of this year's pyromusical before its run ends. The shows are every Saturday night until March 23. For more info, go to www.pyrophilippines.com. If you want to shoot, be there early (around 5PM) so you can save yourself a good spot. Or else you will have to shoot with a lot of people's heads in the shadows. Tripod is a must, the taller the better. If you don't want the hassle of boxing out other people for a shooting location, you can purchase a Patron ticket. It gives you access to the special-viewing area (front and center) where you have a sure seat and a table. It also includes a buffet dinner. Or you could book an overnight stay at Microtel, just like I did. Here's a tip : ask for the 8th or higher floors, and room numbers ending in 10-14. That will give you a better angle than our fifth-floor room.