The Comfort Zone
The day had finally arrived. The day that I dreaded. The day that scared me silly; that one that would challenge all my photographic assumptions. This girl was shaking in her boots. If you have been following along in my “Find Your Eye” journey, you know that we have explored our style in various ways – by creating an inspiration file, by shooting familiar places, by exploring the art of others. Well, this week’s lesson was the source of my fear and dread – because this week we were challenged to walk outside our comfort zone. To shoot a new subject, new location, new situation. To put ourselves out there creatively; to take chances; to become a beginner again. Here’s the thing – I don’t do well outside my comfort zone. I like my zone. I’m good in my zone. It’s warm and fuzzy here. I know who I am and how to shoot. I know where to go to find my shots. And it isn’t as if I haven’t grown here, inside my domain. Looking back, I can see significant improvement in both my creative and technical abilities in the past two years. I have explored new subjects and my work has taken me in different and exciting directions. But I have definitely avoided certain photographic challenges – people, things that move, the “golden hours”, night photography, sweeping vistas, shooting in manual. Avoidance was no longer an option, not if I wanted to take full advantage of the learning experience of this course.So, I set off on a different kind of photo excursion. With the following challenges as guidelines:
- Shoot during the evening “golden hour”
- Compose “wide”. My typical composition consists of fragments – closely cropped, partial views of my subject. My goal was to try wide shots that incorporated a feeling of context.
- Use my tripod to take nightime photos
My primary reaction to this ordeal was one of frustration. Frustration with myself, with my equipment, with the world around me. I floundered and struggled – where to go? what to shoot? Everything about the experience was strange and unpredictable and uncomfortable. I took 78 shots on this sojourn; short of the 100 shots that Kat asked us to take.
I didn’t think much of the hallowed “golden hour”. Maybe it was because there were no clouds to create a dramatic sunset. More likely it was because I don’t know how to take advantage of that perfect light. Composing “wide” was also not a success. Some of this is related to the limits of my equipment and my inability to throw the background out of focus, unless I am in macro mode, leading to cluttered backgrounds.
And yet, amazingly, in the middle of it all, there were tiny sparks of enthusiasm, of excitement, some “what if I tried this?” moments. Baby steps. Tip-toeing out of my comfort zone. Seeing new possibilities.
Through the frustration, I was also grateful. Grateful for being pushed. For being challenged. For discovering the “blue hour” – that transition time between when the sun has set and the full dark of the nightime sky.
Three “keepers” out of 78. Not bad for stepping out into the unknown.
Thanks to Kat for the push. To my fellow classmates for their continued support.
Also, in Kat’s fine series. “Exploring with a Camera”, the current topic is Night Photography – check it out for great tips on how to shoot at night.