Hot Air Balloon Photo Amish Lifestyle Travel Hospitality Photographer2021 was the year that I got a real taste for the hot air ballooning experience and what a wonderful experience it is. I spent a number of days in The Amish Country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania where a dear old friend of mine was spending the summer. Like myself, he is an accomplished photographer. Quite unlike myself he has also been flying hot air balloons for more than 30 years, and was spending the summer in the little town of Bird-In-Hand, PA flying for The US Hot Air Balloon Team. Bird-In-Hand is home to a large Amish population and during my three 2021 visits to the region I got to spend a great deal of time photographically documenting the lifestyle of this unique culture. As you peruse this web site you will see many of the images I created in The Amish Country including pictures of hard-working farmers, tending to their crops with horse drawn equipment; Amish buggies on the rural roads in all sorts of weather conditions and aerial photographs of the Amish farms taken with my DJI photographic drone or from the gondola of a hot air balloon. Taking a flight in a hot air balloon has to go down as one of the most memorable activities I’ve ever participated in. I have tried to put the experience into words but find it difficult to do so. It is truly one of those things that must be experienced to understand. It is exciting…yet so incredibly quiet and peaceful…literally floating above the landscape at the mercy of the winds. The first thing you notice is that you are suspended in the air, moving at the exact speed of the wind; so that no wind is felt at all. The next thing you notice is the quiet. Except for the occasional blast from the aircraft’s propane-fueled hot air burner you hear nothing but the exclamations of your fellow passengers who are revealing in the experience as well. Though life moves all around below, you hear none of it…no traffic noise; no sound from the trains moving along The Amtrak corridor…nothing. It is surreal. This particular photograph was captured during the pre-flight preparations at sunrise. The envelope of the craft (the "balloon" part) is removed from its storage and transport trailer and spread out across an open field. A large gasoline powered fan is then used to fill the envelope with air. During the time that the balloon is being filled one of the crew members is inside the envelope spreading it out evenly as it expands. That is the activity you are seeing here; and gives the viewer some real perspective as to just how big the envelope is. Once the balloon is filled with air, the air is heated with the aircraft’s burner and the balloon starts to "stand up". When the air inside reaches the appropriate temperature it becomes "lighter" than the outside air and the craft will begin to ascend at the skilled pilot’s will. This image was captured with a Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera and a single Nikkor zoom lens…the only equipment I was able to carry aboard the craft. Yes, payload weight is critical to the craft’s safety and performance. All passengers must declare their weight before boarding the craft and this would not be a prudent time to lie about it. I whole-heartedly endorse this activity. If you have the opportunity to take a hot air balloon flight do not pass it up. It is an experience you will remember for a lifetime.