I’ve written about the Albu -querque Box in past blogs. Today the box broke. Instead of drifting to the west and north, the balloons moved quickly to the east and south. They were landing on the golf course near my home. They were landing on busy morning rush hour crowded streets. They were landing in strip mall parking lots. They were lodging on smallish residential streets.

No matter.
No one was injured. And, balloons make everyone smile. In fact, people were hopping out of their cars and helping to fold and drag the envelope when the chase crews couldn’t get to the landing site in time.
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Every now and then… I accidentally make a picture that surprises me. This is one of them. This is truly F8 and be there. This is chasing balloons and not having the time to even think about the image.

For the sake of Google, this is the first day of The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the only day that the early morning mass ascension was not cancelled because of wind or rain.


Yes. The Balloon Fiesta suffered from yet another windy day. Very little flying. Tomorrow may bring more of the same, with rain and thunderstorms being predicted for Wednesday and Thursday. While October is an optimal flying month, it is also a very volatile month as far the weather goes.

I think that I’ve written about this in the past, but I do enjoy making images that contrast man made objects against the largeness and huge expanse of nature. For me, it speaks to the the majesty of nature and to the notion that man cannot, and will never be able to, tame nature.
In all honesty, this might not be the venue for this picture. It needs to be huge. But, there really is a balloon in the left center. Heh, heh.


The Balloon Fiesta lost to nature as it often does. Both the balloon glow, the prettiest event at the fiesta, and the gas balloon release was postponed last night. The mass ascension was cancelled this morning and if the Weather Channel’s hourly weather predictions are correct, tonight’s balloon glow will be cancelled because winds will be higher then 15 mph.

This picture illustrates what the spectators usually do when an even is cancelled. They head right to the food stands and eat. The balloons in the background are the gassers. They were ready to go, but could not lift because of unstable wind. There are nine of them. They are filled with propane and their contest is to determine who flies the farthest. Often times, these balloons end up on the East Coast somewhere depending on wind currents.
I find myself thinking about the Zen nature of these events. Unlike some sporting events, the balloonists go with the flow. They don’t try to over come it. They don’t fight it.


The day didn’t start out very good. Because I can’t seem to fall asleep before 2am, it’s very hard for me to wake up around 5:30am, which is what it takes to make it through Balloon Fiesta traffic in time for a 7am Mass Ascension. Although I was able to drive along the interstate on the Pan American Highway, traffic was so bad that it would have taken my two or three hours to get in the gates and parked.

So, I decided to look around and shoot from the outside, in. I drove up to the Sandia American Indian reservation and then on to Bernallio, working my way back to Albuquerque on Old Route 66 Alternate which eventually turns into Fourth Street. Doing this was great fun. I was able to see how people near the Rio Grande watch the fiesta from their homes and from little levee banks. I was able to see every sort of chase crew hunt for their balloons. I was talked to by a cop on his loudspeaker when I stopped in the middle of the road to make a picture. Everyone else was doing it. He talked to them too.
I believe I made better pictures then I would have if I had been on the balloon field. There really is something to the saying; “things happen for a reason.”
On technical note. The light was pretty gray and overcast with the exception of a few moments. This was one of those moments. The color is as the sensor saw it. I just cleaned the image up a bit, but made no drastic improvements.


The Albu – querque Inter – national Balloon Fiesta starts tomorrow. As I did in New Orleans, I’m going to try to upload a picture made on the day that I made it. I say try because the fiesta is pretty much a dawn and dusk affair as far as my work goes. Hopefully, I’ll upload images from the morning shoot while I’m waiting for the evening shoot. Fortunately, I can be in my office in about 15 minutes after leaving the balloon field.

This image, by the way, is live and of the balloon field in waiting, waiting, waiting…


Along with Balloon Fiesta, early October marks the coming of Fall in Northern New Mexico. We had an all day wind, followed by a cold night last night. Tonight is supposed to be even colder. That should add a bit of color to the leaves before the drop. This means a trip to Santa Fe and north, probably as far as Chimayo. I kind of shoe horn this in since there are balloons to photograph as well. By the way, Chimayo is known as “the Lourdes of North America” since people claim to be healed at the mission there. There is a little square of dirt in the chapel that people dip into and take with them as a remembrance of their visit.


The Sun. Zia. The Navajo symbol of the sun and the state of New Mexico’s icon. Most are bright and highly crafted. I found this one in the little East Mountain town of Tiejeras about 15 miles east of Albuquerque. It’s folksy, hand painted and a little funky. It’s painted on the cracking of crumbling wall of an adobe building. It’s as it should be.


Assuming the weather doesn’t get strange and that certain balloons make it back from China, the Inter – national Balloon Fiesta will start on Saturday with a very early Dawn Patrol. Balloons will lift off after a little ceremony and an invocation. Thousands of people will pour into the city. In fact, finding a hotel without a reservation is so tough that often times people will stay as far away as Grants or even Gallup in order to have a room.