We also have our comfort zones when it comes to colour and contrasts. As a beginner I was always reaching for the high-contrast option, the deep blacks and bolder colours that I could get from my Velvia films and from the available light in the landscape.
But our world does not just have one face. It has many faces and many colours, tones, contrasts, and all of it is worthy of being utilised in our photography. I think moving into new regions, using softer tones and more subtle colour palettes takes time though. Again, like a child building a vocabulary of words, we too have to build up a vocabulary of light qualities and colour responses that we know will work in our imagery.
Our comfort zones often mean we have a tendency to push for the dramatic and bold. Not just in our photography, but in most things in life:
Q1. Does the bass and treble on the hi-fi system have to always be boosted?
Q2. Does the food always need to have salt and sugar added to it?
Q3. Do we always have to search out dramatic sunsets?
Q4. Do the Photoshop / Lightroom sliders always have to go up rather than down?
Can't there be enjoyment in the subtle as well as the dramatic? Do you even allow it in your work? Or are you always striving to make things shout out more to the viewer?
Going the other way leads you into new territory where there is another beauty, another enjoyment.
A1. Turning the Bass down on your hi-fi allows the mid-range to have more clarity.
A2. Cutting back on the sugar and salt in your food allows the natural flavours to surface.
A3. Shooting in more muted light brings you to new colour palettes, softer tones and new moods in your work.
A4. Moving the Photoshop / Lightroom Sliders to reduce things rather than boost them bring you to new colour palettes, softer tones and new moods in your work.
We often hang on to stronger tones and colour more through habit than an appreciation for them.
Where do your comfort zones currently sit? Are you often trying to push the dramatic aspect of your work or do you also play with the more subtle, softer aspects of our world? I ask this in all seriousness because photographs aren't just about great placement of objects to make good compositions. Good compositions aren't just about objects, but often about the interplay between colour, contrast and luminance.
We have so many comfort zones in what we do, and knowing where you are with that, indeed who you are, is key to growing as a photographer.