Photographing the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival

Evening Balloon Glow

A few weeks ago, Mary and I met our good friends and excellent photographers, Jack Graham and Greg Duncan in Temecula.  They were selling fine art photographic prints and photography workshops.  Mary and I were drinking Temecula wine and making photos of the balloons.  Here is what we saw.

Capturing colors and shapes

Mary and I had some experience with photographing hot air balloons as we had gone to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta last October.  The two highlights of the day are always the morning balloon ascension and the evening balloon glow.  In Albuquerque, we saw hundreds of hot air balloons ascend one morning.  In Temecula, we saw zero in two mornings.  Unfortunately, there was a deep and dense morning fog and the ascensions were called off.  Though disappointed, this gave us the chance to do some exploring.

Lavender in bloom

So after breakfast, we ended up going to the Keyes Creek Lavender Farm and walking old town Temecula.  The Lavender farm is about 60 minutes south of Temecula and you will have to drive on some well manicured dirt roads.  I don’t know what we expected, but we got about 2,000 square feet of Lavender.  Not enough to be grand, but enough to make a few fun photos.

Lavender abstract

On the way out of the lavender farm, we drove by an abandoned vineyard.  There was something appealing and eery about it and we just had to stop.

Before heading back to the balloon festival, we had lunch and a walkabout in Old Town.  It was a hoot with a bunch of old buildings, restaurants, and small shops.  Most of the visual interest was in the details of the old buildings, the textures, and the western architecture.  We had an excellent lunch at Sweet Lumpy’s BBQ.

Windmill in Old Town Temecula

Back to the Balloon Festival, we shot two evening glows.  There were about ten balloons and thousands of people, so you needed to stake out your spot.  We did bring our tripods and needed them for longer exposures.  We were also tussled a bit by the crowd and the wind did not always cooperate with the long exposures.  You want to get as many balloons as you can lit up and maybe a bit of flame.  This takes some timing as the exposures are longer than a second.  There were also spot lights that created some interesting light and a rising full moon.

This is one party that is not even really about the balloons.  There were two music concert stages, an arts and crafts fair, food trucks galore, and many wine and beer booths.  Even though it was crowded and dusty, it turned our pretty fun.  Expect this to be an all around experience.  Most people were there to hear the music and drink, shop, and see a few balloons.  We did not see many serious photographers.  Mary wrote a blog about Color Blocking with a bunch of her balloon photos, click here to see more.

Click here for the website for the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival.  It is an annual event.  Maybe, we’ll see you next year.  To see more of our photos, please go to


  1. Najasila

    Looks like a happening festival. In my hometown it was just the baloons and the glow — no concert (Colorado Springs). On the glow pic, did you enhance the moon, or was it really that bright?

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