If you’re up early enough – maybe walking with a coffee or watering the back garden – you’ll see see balloons floating serenely across the pinky-orange sky. You might even see a few passengers waving to you.
We sent Melbourne photographer Dan Hocking for an early-morning flight to see what he could see.
Broadsheet: Is this the first time you've taken photos from a hot-air balloon?
Dan Hocking: I’ve shot from a balloon before, just a couple of months ago, but it was a little different. The winds dictate where you go to a large degree, so on that day, we took off from around South Yarra and travelled north-west over the Docklands and shipyards which was really interesting. For the most recent flight we headed east and passed over the CBD, which is what I was hoping for. Conditions were perfect that morning.
BS: What do you like about shooting from that perspective?
DH: Any chance I have to get a new perspective on Melbourne is a welcome one. I’m always trying to get a different angle on things, particularly buildings around the CBD, but there are only so many high-rise car parks you can find before you’re chasing something different, so shooting straight down is a welcome change.
BS: What's challenging about it?
DH: Balloon flights over the city have to launch really early due to the way the air behaves as it heads from the mountains out to the sea, so you’re usually shooting with very little light until later in the flight as the sun rises. You also can’t plan too much because you’re at the mercy of the weather, so you might not pass over the landmarks or parts of town that you’d like to. You just have to make the most of what opportunities present themselves while you’re up there.
BS: As a photographer, what kinds of things were you looking for?
DH: I tend to see things in a more architectural or structured way, so I was looking for patterns that emerge and the geometry of certain things. Roads and pathways become very linear and graphic, whereas parklands become quite textural. Having people in the frame can give things scale, but I was even more drawn to the empty spaces which would normally be really busy later in the day.
BS: What interesting things can you see from up there that you wouldn't at street level?
DH: Shout outs to great landscape architects. It’s so much easier to appreciate their work from the air. There are also things like rooftop tennis courts, or the tangle of AC and ventilation pipes on top of office buildings. You also get an appreciation for housing density and the way we use space in and around the city.
Broadsheet flew as a guest of Global Ballooning Australia.