What’s your comfort zone?


We often stay in our comfort zone, in our sweet spots, not wanting to try something new and/or difficult to push the envelope further. In a creative industry like ours, that is the ultimate doom in many ways – forgetting how to see things differently means the demise of creativity.

I’m sure there’s always a sweet spot for (D)SLR photographers when it comes to focal lengths. For myself, as a travel photographer, it is undeniable that I can’t live without Nikkor’s ingenius 18-200mm VR wide-telezoom lens. It covers a great range, allowing me to shoot landscapes all the way to zooming in to capture private moments of people otherwise would not possible being too close. Ever since I got it in Aug 2007, it has travelled with me to more than a dozen countries & is just amazing.

But as a portrait photographer, I also have a sweet spot for prime lenses. Having started out with the 50mm 1.8, I soon realised my sweet spot is 30mm… and my glass of choice is the Sigma 30mm 1.4. It’s a perfect lens for people shots, food shots & lotsa bokeh lights (all of the above does combine a fair bit together…)

But of course, the challenge of having a prime lens is its fixed focal length, meaning any ‘zoom’ you’d get will be those from your legs :) It really does force you to see things in a different way because of the restrictions.

So from time to time, I will force myself to just stick to one single lens and see how I cope in getting out of the box it’s stuck me in. I must admit, being able to do so is actually a luxury for most photographers, especially those in commercial lines. But its importance of forcing us out of our comfort zone is never more paramount because of that.

Anyway, one fine afternoon, Sue & I went photowalking & because of the weather, we detoured to Batu Caves (I was there exactly a week before, with the 18-200VR when my buddy Dan visited from Melbourne) and this time around I decided to give myself a challenge & shoot only with the 30mm instead.

Having just returned from Taiwan a week ago, spent 100% time shooting with the tele-zoom, the prime was excruciating initially to use at BC. But soon, I begun to see why I love photography & the challenges it posed again…

So the below are all shot with the 18-200mm VR…

And now for the challenge – 30mm f/1.4 at Batu Caves. Groans. Then love <3

So what will you do today to get out of the comfort zone? It might yield some pleasant surprises on how you see :)

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