Few countries in South East Asia have the allure and draw to them as Myanmar.
For years it was a closed off country that was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, which made traveling there very problematic. Fortunately this all changed a few years ago when the country moved closer to a proper democracy. Now Myanmar is struggling to keep up with demand from the dramatic increase in tourism since it opened its borders.
Bagan is one of the most famous temple regions in Asia
The easiest access point to entering Myanmar is from its neighbor, Thailand. Flying into Bangkok and then on to Yangon or Mandalay is an excellent way to start your adventure into the Kingdom of Myanmar. From there you can make a circuit of sorts that includes the temples of Bagan and the famous Inle Lake region.
The famous golden Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon is great for long exposures at night
The biggest challenge with photographing Myanmar, outside a lack of hotels, is the poor infrastructure for getting around. Unlike Thailand that has solid roads with car, bus and train options for you depending on where you are going, the only way to truly get to the most popular spots is
flying domestic airlines within the country. This helps you avoid the poor roads and incredibly long drive times between the best spots in the country.
The U Bein Bridge in Mandalay is great spot to photograph at sunset
One of the highlights of a visit to Myanmar is a trip to the ancient city of Bagan, home to thousands of small temples, pagodas and stupas that dot the countryside. Walking amongst these century old structures is an incredible experience in itself. Just don’t forget your tripod, as I found the most magical times to photograph these areas to be just after sunrise and just after sunset… when the light is very low on the horizon. To keep down weight and maximize portability, I recommend the Induro CLT 204.
The earth hour just after sunset makes Bagan feel a bit magical
As the sunrises, the dust and haze in the sky allows for some incredible hues to permeate throughout the skies
Don’t be surprised when you find candles lighting up some of these ancient structures
In addition to the pagodas that get most of the attention in Bagan, there are a number of Buddhist Monasteries nearby that house a number of young monks.
Needless to say, they are incredibly photogenic… just make sure you get the permission from the Monastaries first.
Rays of light break through many of the temples, helping to create a unique atmosphere
Texture, light and color all play a role in coming away with great images with these monks
One of the other highlights of visiting Myanamar is the famous Inle Lake and its unique fisherman.
Many of these photogenic individuals have stopped fishing and instead have become part of the tourism draw to the region. In the end, if they can provide more for their families by engaging with tourists, who are we to say that is wrong?
One of my favorite times to be out in the water with these fisherman was around sunset.This also means working with much less light then during the day. While a tripod is not very useful in these situations, I found a monopod pretty helpful, such as the Induro CLM204L. However instead of letting the monopod leg touch the boat, allow it to hang in mid air as it will act as a counter balance to the natural rocking of the boat. If you get good at this practice, you can shoot a few stops slower (shutter speed) than normal, allowing you to keep your ISO as low as possible.
If you have questions about visiting Myanmar or want more information about one of my photography workshops/tours in the region, feel free to reach out at Colby Brown Photography.