The Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta is happening this September in Sussex, here are some tips on getting great photos of the balloons! I hope you get blue skies (and no wind) so they actually get airborne!
ISO: You can use 200 if there is lots of light, 400 if it’s overcast/darker.
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/250th or 1/500th (PREFERRED) should be sufficient as the balloons don’t move really fast.
WHITE BALANCE: I would use the balance for the light you are shooting under to get accurate colors.(daylight-daylight balance(sun) cloudy-cloudy/overcast) Sometimes the auto whitebalance will skew the colors to compensate for a large area of a similar color.
Bring a variety of lenses, from wide angles to your best telephoto. That way you are covered and can get wide shots as the balloons rise, they swap to the telephoto for the long shots.
Light is extremely important to getting good photographs. Full sun is the best, but you must use it the right way. You will get the best light with the sun behind you, shining on the balloons. Below are two shots of the same balloon, but taken from different angles to the light. The one on the left, the balloon is backlit. Metering from just the balloon gave proper exposure for the balloon, but the sky becomes washed out. The one on the right has the sun shining on it, providing a nicer light (although the sun is a bit filtered through the clouds, so the light isn’t as direct and not as bright as the light on the sky)
Get there early! Balloons are supposed to take off at 6:30am and 6pm, so get there early to get into place. You can also get some set up shots. Once the balloons start inflating, they will go up fast.
As they inflate, you can focus in on the bright colors, lines and patterns in the balloons.
You can also play with perspective with other balloons in the air. In the photo below, you can see a small balloon on the bottom left side.
Once they are up in the air and flying away, look for some interesting compositions. You can try using lots of empty sky for emphasis, using the thirds rule, look for lines, shapes and patterns. There will be lots of balloons in the air, find a good angle to get a variety of them in the frame.
Once they are up in the air and moving away, you may want to hop in the car and drive towards the landing area or try to get some shots on the way. Look for a nice farm or natural scene to frame up and have the balloons fly through.
Hope these tips prove helpful!