Three great friends (all wedding photographers) and I set ourselves a personal photography assignment of travelling to Myanmar (Burma) for just over two weeks with a singular goal; document and capture the life and soul of the country.
I have always used mirrorless cameras for street photography, they're small and inconspicuous. The Olympus OMD EM5 (for Auto ISO and AF) and Fuji XT1 (fully manual and hyperfocal focusing) being my favourites. I was always left lacking in one department however; image quality. After falling in love with the Nikon D750 for weddings, I thought Myanmar would be the perfect place to test it on the streets. I used only one lens the entire time, the punching-way-above-its-weight Nikon 35mm 1.8 FX. Small, light and incredibly versatile. If it can cope with sun backlit portraits with retained shadow detail, colour and contrast, it can cope with the street (minimal post processing).
The people of Myanmar were wonderful. Open, happy and always returned a smile (if not smiling already). Some were smiling at my relative physical weirdness however, as compared to the typical people of Myanmar (shorter than I, and with lovely olive/dark skin), I'm a very tall, pale, bearded creature that grins incessantly. Strange indeed. But none were hostile. Ever. The glances at the camera with anything but a smile is simply someone trying to work me out, or being surprised by a camera pointed in their direction. A smile always followed.
Smiles are a universal language. They supercede race, sex, religion... everything. If you don't have them in your arsenal, I'd highly recommend you add them. They unlock hearts and doors (and hence opportunities). And they're free. What's not to like?
I shared the experience with Matt Tyler (who is hilarious and had us in stitches throughout), Kristian Leven (legend who organised the trip) and Sachin Khona (a proxy brother). For four guys to share rooms (and sometimes beds - seriously!) and to not argue (at all), and only laugh (a lot) speaks volumes for the friendships we found and/or developed. A true pleasure.
This is a long post, I decided to show much more than initially intended. I'll be posting a highly curated version on my street photography website soon.
Back onto the Nikon D750 and 35/1.8. Well, I can only echo the words from my previous review. The combo was flawless. AF never missed a beat, the dynamic range from the sensor is out of this world and the compact size/weight make it perfect on the street. I honestly can't see the need for any other camera. To expand that statement - if I could only own a single camera, it would be the D750. I did miss live focus peaking from the mirrorless cameras however, I do love to shoot using hyperfocal focusing and full manual. Something very elemental about it.
The D750 was sublime in low light. I had the chance to seriously push it on the dark streets of Myanmar. I was consistently blown away (again) at how well the AF nailed subjects in the dark. The night bus shot you'll see at the top of the storyboard was taken as a reflex shot; spot the shot, camera to eye, shutter down. The AF hit instantly and accurately (at 1.8). Madness. In fact all of the night shots you see here were first time shots. I didn't have to re-take any due to missed focus. Not one. Unbelievable!
Again, read my D750 review for more information on the camera. This post is an addition to that with the aim of showcasing what the camera is capable of. For the record, I was using AF-C (continuous focus), Auto ISO (max 12,800) and a variable minimum shutter for most of the trip. F8 for the vast majority of the time. I switched to manual for specific shots taken in direct sunlight, but remained in AF-C.
You'll find a tincture of complexity, simplicity, geometry, weirdness, beauty, humour, truth, juxtaposition, abstract and layering. Some photos focus on one of these principles, others offer a combination.
This storyboard is organised by date/time taken. I'd rather portray the trip as we experienced it rather than highlight my own preferences.
If you made it this far - thanks for your time :¬)