Gazing down Church Street in Bicker the other day a roaring sound attracted my attention, and then a great curve of red nylon slowly rose from behind the trees. It was a hot air balloon, very near, and the sound was the flames of the burner as it squirted a stream of hot air into the canopy. I quickly put my longest lens on the camera and, as the balloon with its basket of passengers came fully into view, I started to fire off shots, looking for a composition that included the ground and the brilliant red of the nylon against the morning blue of the sky.
As the balloon slowly rose over the top of the tower of St Swithin's church the Virgin logo became very obvious. What was going on I wondered? Was it Richard Branson on his latest balloon escapade, lost in deepest Lincolnshire? Perhaps he was undertaking a "retro adventure", in the manner of the Montgolfier Brothers, and in the absence of any high-tech communications equipment, the pigeon below the basket had been released carrying an urgent message, "Help, I'm somewhere over the Fens and drifting towards The Wash!" But then as the great craft floated on I read the banner on its side, "Balloon Flights" and a telephone number. Later, when I did a little research I discovered that this is one of the many arms of Virgin's aerial empire. Not content with jet airliners and spacecraft Branson also has a balloon division that offers rides from multiple locations across the UK. A much less harmful offering than 747s and mini-spaceshuttles I suppose.
photograph and text (c) T. Boughen
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 70mm (140mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1 Shutter Speed: 1/1000
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On