Category Archives: Sunsets

2014 Chester County Balloon Festival

I FINALLY got through the gates and found a place to park, and it feels SO good to stretch my legs!

I gathered my gear, and started up the hill.

I HOPE I can find my spot later…

As I got to the dirt road, I heard a voice call my name, and it was Brian A, a fellow local photographer in his car with his wife, and they were leaving.

We chatted for a little bit, and I headed off for my well deserved beer!

It was quit noticeable, the lack of balloons in the air, just laying on the ground like colorful shadows…

Walking to the Victory beer truck, I did see someone was taking advantage of the strong winds, by flying a very colorful kite!

You might be able to notice, the long grass had just been cut, and was laying in the sun to get dry, but that did not stop the children from building hay forts in the fields!

I finally got my beer, and quietly drank it, as I surveyed the fields and the setting sun…

My stomach and nose also told me, it was time to get something to eat, so I ventured back up the hill and into the vending area.

and of course, there were kids and parents all over the place!

All eyes were on this man and his flying kite! – As long has his kite was flying high in the air, no balloons were taking off!

FAA Kite Man 144
Image of the FAA Kite Man, monitoring the winds at the Chester County Balloon Festival.

Eventually, one brave group decided to give a balloon raising a try!

As the sun faded, the temperature began to drop.

Folks began to cuddle up, as a few more balloons attempted to fill the night sky.

Cuddling up 171
A couple cuddle up during the flame glows at the Chester County Balloon Festival.

But the winds refused to die down, as the balloons began to slowly sink back to the ground, a mere shadow of what they could have been.

- Andrew
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Covered Bridges of the Oxford Area – the Book

I have been playing with the idea of publishing a photography book for some time, and after my experience with producing Madison’s 10th birthday gift, I decided to make a first real attempt.

So what was my first real book going to be about?

Looking back at my recent history, it only makes sense that I do something about covered bridges, and I already had the content from the presentation I did back in October 2012 for Citadel bank.

This time is going to be easier from the standpoint that I only had a limited number of pictures, and a layout with the text.

So after a couple of hours, I was able to put the following together using the simple Adobe Lightroom module, and uploading to Blurb.com.

I invite you to take a look, and let me know what you think.

With this first book done, and I’m sure that I’ll revisit at some point, I am beginning to put together some ideas on themed books.

This time, using Blurb’s SmartBook application to put together my next adventure, namely because it seems to offer far more options and controls than what is available in the built-in Adobe Lightroom module.

In the meantime, let me know what you think of the book!

- Andrew
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Super Moon 2013

I started posting on FacebookFlickrGoogle+ and Twitter a while ago, so everyone knew it was coming…

Last year, in early May, there was a dense cloud cover over the whole area, but the small group of us, still managed to have some fun with night-time photography.

Back in April, we gathered for the Lyrid meteor shower, but did not see anything with the naked eye, but did manage to do a few light drawings!

Early in the week, the weather reports suggested that once again the Chester County area was going to have clouds, and as Sunday approached, watching the reports, I was skeptical.

By Sunday afternoon, I started to see posts from folks wondering when and where to meet, and it was agreed to meet at the usual location, the Boat Launch side of Marsh Creek.

All afternoon, I was looking at the sky, and by 7:45pm, I left the house.

While I drove along Creek Rd (282) heading north, I could peek through the trees, and began to think that our atmospheric luck was beginning to change.

As I turned right on N Reeds Rd, and looked over my shoulder into the horse field, I was greeted with this –

Hilltop Sunset - Super Moon 2013
Hilltop Sunset – Super Moon 2013

I continued down the park road, and turned into the front parking lot,nearest to the lake, and was looking for tripods.

Passing the first group, I did not see anyone that I knew, and continuing on until I thought I recognized a truck, and then I saw a friendly wave.

After parking, I got out of the car, walking over to Dan and Brian, shaking their hands in greetings.

Canoes at Sunset - Super Moon 2013
Canoes at Sunset – Super Moon 2013

We chit chatted as I unpacked and setup.

It did look like a good night!

Not perfect, but it will do, and for the next two hours, I had some fun with the event!

I knew I could not stay out late, and said my ‘goodbyes’, and headed home.

While driving back along Creek Rd, the brightness of the full moon pierced the leaves of the trees, making me think of a quick picture to end the night.

Eventually, I found myself in the small parking lot across the street from the new Minquas Fire Company Station House.

I was about 5 minutes late, but what are you going to do…

Minquas Fire Company HQ - Super Moon 2013
Minquas Fire Company HQ – Super Moon 2013

From here, I headed home…

- Andrew
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Update

Facebook Profile picture for Minquas Fire Company!

2013 Chester County Balloon Festival

The last time I went to the Chester County Hot Air Balloon Festival was back in 2011, when it was held at the Embreeville Athletic Fields along Telegraph Road (Rt 162).

Back then, I remember that at the gates closest to the balloons, were packed with people and one could hardly move!

This year, the festival was held at Plantation Field Horse Trials just outside of Unionville, and the venue change alone was awesome! Chester County at it’s finest!

That being said, be prepared to walk, up and down the long public slope that features live music, arts & crafts and food booths.

In the small valley, the balloons were unfurled and prepared for flight.

The extremely long fence line offered great close-up views for hundreds at a time, which was a welcomed change!

Earlier in the year, I contacted the festival organizers about getting some Passes for the Chester County Photography Groups (Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and Twitter) and they provided me with 5 All Access Passes!

I posted that I had the Passes to the groups, and with an hour, they were spoken for.

After several round-robin emails and phone calls, I was able to give John Griggs and Michael Weinstein their tickets for the event.

To say that we were not excited would be a gross understatement.

With the passes, we were able to walk freely in the Launch area, as the hot air was being blown into the balloons as they slowly rose into the sky!

Just before sunset, after most of the balloons had launched, the Shaped balloons began their rise, and a featured balloon was the Patriot – The Space Shuttle.

It is HUGE!

It is 190 feet Tall, 115 feet Wide and weighs 992 pounds! [usflagballoon.com]

It is something that really needs to be seen live!

Some of the earlier launched balloons returned, and set up to do some night time glows for the large audience that was still there.

As 9:30 rolled around, there was a general slow exodus from the grounds.

- Andrew
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Hot Dam Night

I have always enjoying looking up into the night-time sky, and following the rhythms of our solar system is something I follow daily online.

Lately, I have been keeping my eye on the rare alignment of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury in the west-northwest about 30 minutes after sunset. The next time this will happen, is in 2026.

Being Friday night, I had to go out and try to see this!

The whole week has been hotter than normal for this time of year, and I hoped the cover of night would help.

The dam parking lot had two other cars when I arrived, and as I unpacked, a jogger going downhill, turned and entered the park.

MCSP Sunset & Fishing
MCSP Sunset & Fishing

Because of the heat and humidity, I packed my equipped vest into the daypack, and threw it over my shoulder, along with my camera and tripod, and headed into the park.

Heading down the hill, it got darker because of the overhanging trees and leaves, but the light grey colored maintenance road made it easier to follow with the ambient light.

When I got to the opening at the bottom of the dam, and I could see I was a little late in getting there, but I still had time.

I took the steep dirt path through the tall grass to the south-eastern corner area of the lake. The ‘flea and tick season’ phrase kept repeating itself in my head.

I finally reached the dirt road at the top, panting heavily and thinking that I should have brought along a second water bottle, while the jogger I had seen earlier, passed by me, and off into the increasing darkness.

Once setup, I could see that most of the sky was clear, but there was a thin bands of clouds, hovering in the distance, just above the treetops, in the northwest sky, right where my compass was aimed at 300°.

I was a little bummed, but as the 30 minute mark began to approach, I did see a bright spot right where it should be, and not moving. Could this be one of the planets?

I took numerous pictures of the sunset, and rising ‘planet’, and then started to focus my attention on the various fishing boats with lights, motoring silent around the lake.

Light Fishing at MCSP
Light Fishing at MCSP

As one boat crossed in front of me, I heard –

“You can not take his picture. He is in the witness relocation program.”

Followed by chuckles from the boat.

Responding back, with a smiling tone, I said that my camera did not have the resolution, and that they were going to fast.

Little do they know… Tee hee…

I also followed the various airplanes crossing my vision. It did not seem like a very busy night, especially compared to other times I have stood in the boating parking lot, staring up into the night sky on other photography expeditions.

As 9:30 approached, and fending off the mosquitoes was becoming impossible, I packed up, crossing over the rest of the dam, turning sharply to my left, and down the diagonal road.

Jupiter and Venus over Marsh Creek State Park
Jupiter and Venus over Marsh Creek State Park

Walking next to the marshy area, I saw fireflies signaling their presence, and at the bottom, I could see that I was going to need my headlamp, as I started back into the darker section of the road. I had not been here before at night, so I did not know what I might encounter.

When the light flashed on, I was greeted by a thin fog that reflexed back the bright light, making it more difficult to see. I turned the lamp down, be it did not help. Maybe next time, I’ll get the headlamp with multi-colors.

Finally, I reached the brown swinging gate at the top of the trail, and headed into the parking lot, where I threw my gear into the car, and headed home.

Note to Self – Next time, bring two water bottles and bug spray…

- Andrew
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Updates

After processing several series of images, it seems that I might have ‘caught’ Venus and Jupiter in my captures, with Jupiter being just too faint to see with the naked eye.

We’ll try again in 2026!