January 2013 - Shwedagon

Category: Newsletters 11 January 2013


One more session to round off the trip, maybe I could squeeze out just one more shoot. After all when would we next be in Yangon? Well, we'd already resolved to return sooner rather than later; Myanmar (or is it Burma?) had been beguiling. So on the last morning we were back at Shwedagon where we had started our adventure a month before.

The first light was just starting to reflect off the gold pagoda and I was set up, hovering by the tripod, waiting for someone interesting to walk through my frame. Monks came and went, but none were in my prime spot, and it must be admitted after a month of exposing their rich red robes I was just starting to get blasé. Yes, I was monked out, but otherwise didn't want to leave. Dawn patrols full of exotic eastern promise would soon give way to the queue for the supermarket car park on Christmas Eve. All good things have to end. Actually I hate people who say that. Why?

Wendy passed, asking what I was waiting for; I didn't really know. Burma to weave its magic again, I guess. Early morning worshippers started to appear but the hordes of tourists that throng the Temple later in the day were still absent, apart from us of course. After an hour of hanging about a pink clad shaven headed nun approached from behind; action stations. As she walked into my frame I hit the high speed shutter release of my 5D mkIII; 6 frames were exposed in the blink of an eye and she was gone, oblivious to just how deliriously happy she had made me. My joy increased as I scrolled back through the RAWs and spotted the bird. Lady luck had smiled at me that morning with the crow soaring overhead just at the Decisive Moment, but she and I both know luck is where opportunity and preparation combine. We plodded back for breakfast buzzing but wistful; it was over. If only we could bottle those moments.

A nun at Shwedagon Pagoda at dawn, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Canon 5D mkIII, 17mm TS-E lens, 0.9ND grad soft filter

 A fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)
Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm lens, 0.6 ND grad filter

We're back now and I'm immersed in the laborious editing. In under two weeks I'll be in the red rock desert landscapes of Utah, beyond the challenge of that trip lies the deadline for my third book, Focus on Imaging, the Jurassic Coast Workshop, spring and our annual visit to Umbria. A certain sadness tinges the office; this year will be our last such pilgrimage to the Green Heart of Italy. After six years of running our Umbrian Workshops it's time for a change. If any of you have been tempted to join us there for 4 days of photographic immersion, adventure and tuition next May is your last chance. We'll aim to go out in style.

The village of Castelvecchio in the Valnerina at dawn, Umbria, Italy
(Canon 1Ds mkIII, 7-200m lens)

Burma already seems like an unreal memory, but the images are a constant reminder of just how rewarding a journey it was. I must plough on with the processing; we'll need these images for various pieces in next month's Chasing the Light eZine. This month's issue has more than ever; a Compositional Tutorial from Mandalay, a wet and windy Field Trial, and a Stepping Back piece from the Seychelles on the heels of eZine Editor Freya Dangerfield's contemplation of the world of book publishing in previous issues. Garry Ridsdale's in depth examination of how state of the art auto focusing systems work is a must for anyone shooting moving subjects, whilst Ross Hoddinott gets muddy knees in his excellent Guest Feature as he delves into the world of nature in miniature. On top of all that we have the Member's Gallery, f11 News and the monthly Video Tutorial. I get a real kick when each new Issue goes live. After its first full year the eZine has real momentum, and our growing band of f11 members have access with every back issue to an increasing wealth of inspirational, entertaining and informative resources.
A women with pottery, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma).
Canon 1Dx, 85mm lens

Starry night over the Bay of Bengal from Thande Beach, Ngapali, Rakhaing, Myanmar (Burma)
Canon 1Dx, 14mm lens, 20 secs @ f4, ISO 6400)

Burma and Utah is all well and good, but for my penance this year I'm braving the delights of the NEC in Birmingham again to return to Focus on Imaging. On Monday March 4th I'll be on the Lee Filters stand if any of you would like to drop by for a chat.

Back to the editing. Looking at the images now I'm struck again by just how welcoming the people of Burma were; not once did I get a negative response when I pointed my large lens at a beaming face. I had great fun experimenting with the low light capabilities of the Canon 1Dx in dark markets and under starry skies. As usual whenever I extended my three legs I drew a crowd, but that's all part of the fun of South East Asia. It was a trip that epitomised the joy of travel photography.

Who's watching who? Ngapali, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo Wendy Noton

Keep exposing.

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