Capturing the ancient temples of Bagan at night.

Capturing Bagan at night with the Milky Way was the main thing I was here for. Although there are millions of photos Bagan, there’s very few with the Milky Way. And there are especially few timelapses made. No one has ever done a timelapse movie of Bagan. 

So I was a mission to create the first timelapse movie of Bagan. I planned to capture it throughout the day, but the Milky Way skies behind the temples were my main scenes. The mission seemed simple enough and so I planned my visit when the Milky Way would be in great position. This happened to be during the monsoon season, which is as unfortunate as you can think of: trying to capture clear skies when there are clouds and storms…

Shooting (camera) in Bagan at night

After I arrived at my guesthouse I told the guy at reception what my plan was and that I’d be out all night, returning at or after sunrise. He then told me I was not allowed, one of the reasons being that there were many dangerous snakes and that the electric motorbike had to be charged. Turns out Myanmar is the deadliest country in the world when it comes to snakebites. Read about what happened in my Behind the Scenes article.

It was a tense time as well. I hadn’t expected it would be any problem to do my thing. But it turned it wasn’t really ok to be out, especially considering the snakes. One night a poisonous snake crawled under my legs, while I was sitting on the ground. I never was comfortable again. But you know what the problem is when you’re looki/listening in the dark? You start seeing stuff that isn’t there! I’d hear all these things that would freak me out. Then there was one night I thought I stepped on a snake. What a nightmare. Never watch horror movies in those conditions, I warn you.

I never got enough shots the first 2 weeks, so I stayed a month longer and eventually got so much timelapse footage, the project grew into something bigger, eventually a pentalogy (5) of movies. Despite all challenges and dangers, persistence and stupidity/bravery paid off and I even captured a rare night with 3 lightning storms! I love lightning!

Gear

Nikon D750 + D850 with Nikkor 20/1.8, 16-35/4 and 28-300/3.5-5.6

Other links

Watch the full Bagan photo series and other Myanmar photos at my portfolio.
Don’t miss my Myanmar travel guide and other Myanmar posts at my blog.

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