The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. So if you’re reading this blog today, ask yourself, when last did you move out of your comfort zone? challenge yourself? Try something new?
Seriously… take some time to really thing about that.
Right, with that said, you will ultimately never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change only begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Today, most of the globe is in a state of lock down and limited movement. Perhaps week one of lock down has seen all of your home maintenance completed and you're desperate for something else to keep you occupied?
I challenge you to take that one step out of your comfort zone...
I consider myself fortunate to still be working in these times (which definitely helps in keeping me sane). Although remotely, I get to work normally (online) as I would if I were sitting in the Wild Eye office. But, sadly I cannot do what I love most, which is host guests on safari, creating the best possible experience for them, and change the way they see the world!
Last week I sat and reflected on the fact that I am supposed to be at Phinda Private Game Reserve right now hosting a guest on a private guided safari, followed by a week thereafter in Madikwe Game Reserve.
This thought not only got me longing for time in the field with great people, sharing my knowledge and stories but also longing to have my camera in hand again. It is thanks to that very thought that this past weekend, I took that step, a step way outside of my comfort zone.
Way back in my ‘book of life’, I started guiding at lodges and it is here where my love of photography had started. Back then, a DSLR camera was a foreign object to me and consequently one of many comfort zone shifts or new challenges I had to face.
I have realized; it is during the times that I experience myself the most. I get to see and feel who I really am, and I'm grateful that I took those steps back then as it has lead me to where I am today.
Think of what a comet is like, born in the outer realms of the universe but it's only when it ventures too close to our sun or to other stars that it releases the blazing "tail" behind it and shoots brazen through the heavens and meteors become sucked into our atmosphere before they burst like fireworks and realise that they're shooting stars. That's why I enjoy taking myself out of my own element, my own comfort zone, and hurling myself out into the unknown. Because it's during those scary moments, those unsure steps taken, that I am able to see that I'm like a comet hitting a new atmosphere, burning with passion.
I discover a smile I didn't know I had, I uncover a feeling that I didn't know existed in me. I see myself. I'm a shooting star. A meteor shower. But I'm not going to die out. I guess I'm more like a comet then. I'm just going to keep on coming back.
Okay I am stretching this out a bit now but what I’m trying to say here is that by accepting challenges or taking ‘that step’ out of your comfort zone into the unknown can only lead to growth and satisfaction.
Now for where and how I ventured off this past weekend. I decided to challenge myself to venture into a new style/genre of photography that I believe is called ‘creative photography’.
You may say, but Michael, you understand camera gear and light so well so what is the challenge? Knowing the technicalities definitely helps but hey, if you never try, you’ll never learn. With that said, the task I set myself was no easy task as it is something I have never done before. All I know is wildlife photography and the odd function shoot. Photographing people… lets not go there. All I’ll say is that wildlife is way easier than people.
Getting to this new style now. A studio-like photography set up, black/white back drops, flashes, flash stands, tripods etc. Apart from a tripod (which I don’t even have with me right now), I own no studio gear and so this made this task even more challenging.
I didn’t let this stop me and so I improvised. See the list below of the common house hold items (apart from the props I used) I made use of;
- Canon 5Dmkiv
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Black bed sheet
- Different forms of flashlights
- Fairy lights
- Picture frame glass which I painted black on the one side
- Flameable fluid
- News paper
- Water mister/spray bottle
Now lets move onto the images I created.
For the images you will see below, a black drop (bed sheet), black reflective bottom (glass painted black) strategic placement of flashlights (to stand in for flash) were needed here to create a totally black background.
You may be wondering how I managed to take the lemon images because I had to be in two places at once; taking the shot and dropping the lemon/spraying the water past the lemon. Well the fact that I did not have my tripod with me made things quite challenging as I needed to set my camera up on a chair or a stack of books, I also set my shutter driver to a 10 second delay. Focused on the subject, pushed the shutter and then it came down to trial and error. Timing is everything and the more you do, the greater your chances are, DO NOT GIVE UP!
The next few images comes with a warning, newspaper burns REALY fast so try this at your own risk and be sure you do this outdoors.
For the first image I rolled up a full newspaper to the diameter of my lens. Prefocused on the end edge of the newspaper, lit the paper on the bottom at the end of the tunnel and took the shot.
The second scene lead me to dress to the occasion, find a dark area in the garden where I could tuck myself into. Set up the camera in a stable place, made marks on the ground where I’d stand and where I should hold the news paper, prefocused to where the news paper would be and then pushed the shutter; I also set my shutter driver to a 10 second delay for this one, got into position and lit the two top corners of the newspaper.
Lastly, we move onto light painting which was by far the easiest scene to shoot. This is where the fairy lights came into use. I put the lights into a glass jar with a string attached to it in order for me to swing them in all different directions.
It important to know that for this to work, the area you are working in must be dark with no stray light and so this usually works best at night. Also, to add value to this, choose a cool looking item to ground the image and as you would of seen I made use of a round tree root coffee table decoration.
Just to remind you, all of the scenes I captured were challenging and frustrating at times but you have to be uncomfortable in order to be successful, in some ways.
Let me conclude with this, life always begins with that one step outside of your comfort zone.
Thank you for taking the time to join me on this creative journey. I do hope that you have learnt something and more importantly, feel inspired to move out of your comfort zone.
Until next time;