4 Tips for Taking Pictures Inside a Hot Air Balloon

Posted on: 3 May 2016

Riding in a hot air balloon is a rare experience that you will likely remember for your entire lifetime. To help capture those memories, many people decide to bring digital cameras up for the ride. Whether you're riding in along in the open sky or part of a large hot air balloon fiesta, there are key tips and tricks for capturing ideal photos. Being up that high in the sky is an ideal way to capture beautiful landscape shots that can later be used for poster prints, computer wallpapers, or even photo competitions. By using the following four photography tips, you can ensure that you are capturing amazing photos during your hot air balloon journey.

Use Narrow Apertures

When you're up so high in sky, you have a large depth of field to work with. To ensure that everything is in focus and visible on your photos, you will want to shoot images with a narrow aperture. A narrow aperture will help make the mountains or clouds in the distance appear in perfect focus. When shooting straight towards the ground, you can ensure that all of the landscapes and homes have a direct sharpness to them.

As you're setting the aperture, you will be changing the setting known as the F-stop. The get narrow, the F-stop should be set at at least a 5.6. The further up you go in the hot air balloon, the more the F-stop should increase. If you're at a hot air balloon fiesta or event where multiple hot air balloons are in the sky, then you want to use at least an F-stop of 10.0 to ensure that all of the other hot air balloons remain in focus for the picture.

Adjust for Lighting

When taking pictures from a hot air balloon, one of your main sources of lighting will be the sun. There is not point in using a camera flash because the flash will not reach far enough and will result in a waste of battery power. If it is the middle of the day, the sun will be high in the sky and create harsh lighting. The best way to combat this is by constantly shooting with the sun against your back. The hot air balloon will spin and rotate frequently, so it's important to constantly be aware of the sun's location when taking images.

If the flight is in early morning or near dusk, then you have some more lighting options to play with. Shooting directly towards the sun during these times can create dramatic effects like solar glares and silhouettes. Play around with different angles to see how you can showcase the dramatic sunlight during this time.

Bring a Tripod

A hot air balloon ride may seem smooth at first, but when you start taking pictures, you realize how shaky the rides can be. To help stabilize your photos and prevent movement blurs, it's a good idea to bring a tripod along for the trip. If you feel like a tripod is too bulky, then you can bring a mono-pod. This is a single pole tripod. It will allow you to support the camera and provide the extra stability needed for a clear shot. You could also bring an adjustable tripod with you for the trip. This tripod can wrap around the edge of the hot air balloon and provide a stable connection for your camera.


The lens option is important for taking great landscape pictures on your hot air balloon trip. One of the best lens options for these images is a wide-angled lens. These lens can capture the largest view of the landscape below or the whole horizon. If you are in the sky with other hot air balloons, a wide-angled lens can ensure that you are capturing all of the hot air balloons in a single shot.

Practice taking images from high locations at your home before the actual hot air balloon trip. This will help you get an idea for the conditions and settings that you should use with your camera.


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