Allan Hinton, also know by his Instagram alias Chaiwalla, just returned from a trip to Southeast Asian nation Myanmar. For the journey, he swapped his Sony a7R II for a Nikon D5600. Here’s how he found the experience.
A fan of Southeast Asia for its cultural differences to his native UK, self-taught Hinton already had a trip to Myanmar in the diary when Nikon came calling about a collaborative project. For the trip, he was tasked with utilizing the features of the D5600 along with the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G and AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR lenses.
Speaking exclusively to Fstoppers, Hinton says that before embarking, he was fascinated with the way of life lived by the locals of Myanmar — the tribes, the tattooed faces, their attitudes to life. He had seen images from National Geographic photographers that he found significantly more compelling than photos from anywhere else in the world. Upon arrival, he wasn’t disappointed, as the people were even more welcoming and friendly than he had imagined.
Hinton admits knowing little about the country before traveling there. With parts of the Western side — close to the border — facing increasing tension and unrest, Hinton found the locals he met were largely unphased. But how did they react to having their portraits taken?
By and large, most were happy to oblige. Hinton credits the D5600’s articulating screen for the success of a number of his portraits. One example he gave was during a session with a group of fishermen. The screen allowed him to shoot with a much lower perspective than usual. A feature he now calls an “absolute necessity,” the screen gave him more to play with when maneuvering a small canoe boat on an open lake. “I could get [the camera] lower to the water and bend the screen towards me to see what I was doing,” he explains. It was also a great asset for street photography; Hinton recalls how he would hold his camera at waist-height — again with the screen tilted back towards his line of vision — in a move he found was more discreet when trying to capture spontaneous moments. By not raising the camera to his face and pointing it at others, he found people weren’t so deterred at the sight of him snapping away.
A seasoned Instagram pro, he was also seeking out images taken with different angles. “It’s hard to stand out on social media when everyone’s doing the same thing. The screen helped massively […] it meant I could get lower.” The touch-screen ability of this camera also meant Hinton was able to tap the screen to auto-focus when positioning his camera in an unusual stance, something he said made self-portraits feasible when traveling alone.
One of his biggest motivations for the change in equipment was the portability of the Nikon. Hinton says his usual Sony set-up included an adaptor for his various Canon lenses — a situation that was impractical while on the road. The Nikon lenses, he says, were light and durable. Using a lighter body meant the camera spent more time around his neck than in his bag. Thus, he found himself taking more images.
A keen traveler, Hinton also spoke about the task of editing on the move. He confesses to uploading phone photos in place of his DSLR images on previous trips — something most of us are guilty of — due to tight time constraints and for convenience when hopping between accommodation. However, for the Myanmar trip, he said using the in-built Snapbridge camera software technology, he could edit his images instantly before posting from his phone. He talks more about the process in his blog post here.
Of course, we're comparing cameras of differing pricetags; cameras that are usually used by photographers of varying skill levels. But the images are undeniably beautiful and memorable. Should you wish to see more of his Myanmar trip, there's a gallery below, and a broader spectrum of his work at his website and Instagram.
Images used with permission.