2011 Top 10 Photo Moments … Number 8

Let the countdown begin! Over the next few weeks I’ll work my way down a list of my Top 10 Favorite Photo Moments from last year. I’ll post an outtake photo or two, a link to the finished project (a few are coming soon in 2012!), and a few words about what made that particular place—or shooting moment—so memorable. Stay tuned for Number 7, coming soon!

#8 Quechee Hot Air Balloon and Craft Festival, Quechee, Vermont: Last summer I photographed the Quechee Hot Air Balloon and Craft Festival for our upcoming Vermont Icons book. It’s always held on Father’s Day weekend and the kickoff is Friday evening. The officials were deciding whether or not to cancel that evening’s flight because of impending bad weather. While everyone was waiting, I struck up a conversation with Dick Young from A Beautiful Balloon, Inc., and he kindly invited me to hang out with his crew for the evening. The word came from the officials: no flight that evening. It was a bit disappointing, but safety is top priority at the Festival. While enjoying a lovely spot of wine and strawberries and conversation with the crew, Dick and Mary Beth (his wife, also a pilot) welcomed me to join them in the morning and ride along in the balloon chase van.

At 6 am the next day, fog drifted and hung low along the edge of the field, threatening to spoil the morning’s flight. I found Dick and Mary Beth and the crew on the field and waited with them while the officials made their decision. Finally, enough fog burned off and it was a “go!” I moved throughout the field photographing the teams as they laid out and inflated their balloons. A few balloons lifted up into the sky, and then Dick gave the go ahead, and the crew began to prepare their balloon. I can still hear the ffffffffffffffffff! as the crew turned on the burner flame and filled the balloon with hot air. When the balloon was prepped and triple checked for safety, Dick—who was piloting that flight—invited his passengers to climb into the wicker basket. After a safety talk with his passengers and a final check, off they went! They slowly floated up into the cloudy sky, every so often we could hear the hiss from the burner flame and watched them float higher. Then, Mary Beth informed me, the chase was on!

 

Mary Beth drove the chase van and the crew gave me the prime seat: shotgun! The balloon traveled toward town and we drove down the Main Street toward the shops. It was out of our sight for awhile so Mary Beth checked in with Dick via radio and he informed us they were traveling towards a school. We stopped the van and I hopped out for a moment to take some pictures of other balloons and all of a sudden, there they were—floating over the van! The crew looked on their maps and found a road that would lead us to the school. We chased the balloon to the school then Dick communicated with us that they wouldn’t land there, they were headed back toward town.

Off we went, losing sight of the balloon, and then it came back into view once we were on Main Street. Dick let us know they were about to land, so we parked the van on the side of the road and hopped out. We looked up and the balloon was crossing Main Street and  about to land on the front lawn of a house! I ran back, away from the balloon, and photographed its descent—my favorite moment—it landed so quietly, almost stealthily (except for the fact that a crowd had gathered and cheered as it landed!). I made a series of images of the landing, thinking that one day when I have a little extra time, I’ll edit them together as a multimedia piece.

After the balloon was folded up and it and the basket were stowed away in the van, Dick, Mary Beth and his crew had a celebratory toast and nibbles which they shared with the passengers, the folks from the house, and all the spectators who gathered to watch (and help take down the balloon!). It was a great morning shared with some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met!

Project: Vermont Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Green Mountain State, Globe Pequot Press, July 2012.

2011 Top 10 Photo Moments … Number 9

Let the countdown begin! Over the next few weeks I’ll work my way down a list of my Top 10 Favorite Photo Moments from last year. I’ll post an outtake photo or two, a link to the finished project (a few are coming soon in 2012!), and a few words about what made that particular place—or shooting moment—so memorable. Stay tuned for Number 8, coming soon!

#9 Burton-Dassett Hills Country Park, Warwickshire, England

During a photo trip to England last January, my aunt took me to visit Burton-Dassett Hills Country Park in Warwickshire. The day was very English: grey, cold, and rainy. Perfect for making pictures … and going to the pub! We drove around the Park for awhile, waiting out the rain which was pouring buckets. At one point, I hopped out of the car, zipped up my weather-beaten and holey wax cotton jacket (regrettably, this really is its final journey outside of home) and wandered about the Park. I spied a flock of sheep amongst the mist and rugged hilltops of the park. I’m a sucker for sheep, so I slowly crouched down and started making a few images. Once they got wind of me, they began walking (okay, running) away from me and as they neared the bottom of a hill, they slowed down. Some stopped and looked back my way. Then the sun broke through the clouds and lit the entire scene. Wow. Stunning. “Hey,” I had to remind myself, “get back to work and make some images.” The moment lasted perhaps a minute, the sun’s rays faded in and out like a waning lightbulb until the gathering clouds covered the golden light once again.

 

I followed the flock along a path for awhile and met them later near the road. This time they didn’t run from me, but watched me as I clicked a few frames. They were curious, strikingly white fuzzy creatures with mottled black faces, baaa-ing to each other, hoofs delicately tapping the pavement as they crossed from the field to the road to another pasture. When I finally walked back to the car, I thanked my aunt for sharing the Park with me—and her patience in waiting for me—and promised her a hot lunch and a pint at the nearest pub! I look forward to visiting Burton-Dassett again, perhaps in the summer next time….

The Countdown Begins … Number 10

Let the countdown begin! Over the next few weeks I’ll work my way down a list of my Top 10 Favorite Photo Moments from last year. I’ll post an outtake photo or two, a link to the finished project (a few are coming soon in 2012!), and a few words about what made that particular place—or shooting moment—so memorable. Stay tuned for Number 9, coming soon!

Number 10: UVM Morgan Horse Farm, Weybridge, Vermont

I spent a hot June day photographing Morgan horses—from wee lads and lasses and their mamas to adolescents in serious training. Two memorable moments: The first occurred while I was photographing in the middle of the nursery paddock. The UVM staff ushered the foals and the mares out of the barn and into their paddock. It was a lovely sunny day and it wasn’t long before the babies plopped down and snoozed at their mamas’ feet (this is always disconcerting to me, they look so … still). I quietly made some photographs and happened to slowly turn around to stand up and—hello!—there appeared one very curious filly looking down at me! As I stood up she didn’t shy away, but followed me around, sniffing me, snorting into my camera … nudging me in the back when I wasn’t making photos of her! It was a grand time and she put bad thoughts into my head about considering raising horses (my poor husband!).

 

The second memorable moment happened later that day. In the afternoons, the UVM staff often will lead a Morgan mother with her foal following along to the farm’s front paddock. It’s a great place for visitors to get a closer view of the horses. This day was no exception. The mare, UVM Freedom, walked quietly on her lead to the paddock. Her foal, a beautiful Chestnut filly named UVM Trinity had a different idea. Once she was out of the barn, she shot forward, ran a couple of circles around her mom, bucked about a bit, then gathered speed and struck off across the wide expanse of freshly mowed lawn. She galloped around and had a grand old time, whinnying to her mom, flying by under the stately Justin Morgan statue, and happily evaded capture by the staff until she got a bit … well … reprimanded. Her mom called to her and eventually Trinity found her mom and coasted into the paddock. What a great moment!

By the way, UVM Trinity, is the Morgan Horse Farm 2011 Raffle Filly. Her sire is UVM Tennyson. Click here for info about the 2012 Raffle.

Project: Vermont Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Green Mountain State, Globe Pequot Press, July 2012.

2011: A Look Back at an Extraordinary Travel Year

Last weekend, while I was searching through my Lightroom catalog of photos and videos, I suddenly stopped and thought holy guacamole, Wow!, what an extraordinary photo/video/travel year for me! So I thought it would be fun to put together a list of my Top 10 Favorite Photo Moments from last year. I’ll do the “Letterman-thing” and begin with Number 10 and work my way to Number 1 over the next few weeks. I’ll post an outtake photo or two, a link to the finished project (a few are coming soon in 2012!), and a few words about what made that particular place—or shooting moment—so memorable. Stay tuned!