There are several methods of accurately evaluating the balloon’s direction at any given moment
It first requires that the pilot be situated in the front of the basket relative to its general direction. Secondly, the pilot must glance downward across a fixed part of the basket (siderails, upright) to the ground. At this point, it is important that the navigator focus diligently for several seconds with one eye on the siderail and one eye on the ground track. It is important to “deduct” any error generated by basket spin, as that will throw your line way off. This focus must last at least 3 full seconds (preferably longer) to detect the subtle movement.
When the pilot thinks that he/she has determined a track, he/she must visually pan slowly up the projected track until a landmark in the distance is found that lies exactly along the suspected route of travel. Once this landmark is established mentally, it’s time to do it all over again. Invariably, the second track evaluation will be different than the first. It is very important to evaluate which side of the “red barn” you are approaching, not simply the “red barn area.” The third evaluation will usually reveal the ground track fairly accurately if the proper focus had been given to each try. Unfortunately, this exercise requires such extreme focus to provide precise results that the balloon often goes out of controlled level flight thereby changing direction and making the above results meaningless.