ISO 100 | 50mm | f 8.0 | 1/200 sec

Surrounded on all sides by walls and thick darkness, I lay huddled in a corner, almost scared to move or breath.  The silence was endless, not even the faintest scuffling of feet or muffled cry to be heard.  Blackness enveloped me like a cloak, and I felt strangely comforted and secure, although my heart was filled with fear and uncertainty.  But it wasn’t the impenetrable darkness, or the resounding stillness, or the intensely claustrophobic nature of the walls that encased me on all sides that instilled in me a sense of dread.  Rather it was what lay outside my confinement that gave me cause to tremble.

It was not so much who, or what exactly, for of those things I was uncertain.  Really it was the simple thought of the unknown that kept me huddled in my small dark corner, paralyzed with fear and trepidation.  Truth be told, I’d known for years that escape from my confinement was as simple as lifting the lid above my head and walking out into the sunshine and fresh air.  But therein lay the trouble.  What if what lay beyond this warm, solid, secure box of mine was nothing but coldness, bitterness, desolation, and death?  How could I be certain that I wasn’t opening myself up to wretched disappointment on the other side of these walls?  Why risk leaving the cramped darkness I knew for a possibly colder hopelessness I could not predict?

For years I’d agonized over this question, struggled with this uncertainty that held me captive in my comfortable confinement.  Unable to assure myself of the uncertain joys and pleasures that awaited me outside, I remained steadfast in my place, desperately trying to hold on to what little I had, paralyzed by a fear of the unknown.  Until today.

Fed up by my complacency, and driven slightly by a root of discontentment with current circumstances, I finally mustered up the courage to lift the lid of my prison.  Hesitantly I opened my eyes and gazed around, ready at any moment to drop the lid and rush back to my hiding spot.  But as I peered out at my surroundings, I was overcome with the realization that I’d been missing out on what life was all about.  Before me lay an entirely new world full of color, light, sounds, smells, and textures; a world brimming with life, adventure, and opportunities.  I could hardly believe my eyes.

As I clambered out of my box and set foot on fresh, soft earth, a sense of joy and remorse washed over me.  So many years I spent living in fear of the unknown, so much time wasted in the dark; and yet, considering what lay in front of me, I was glad for the time still in my possession.  Bidding adieu to my box, I headed off to seek new sights, new sounds, new adventures; to discover what I had been born to discover all along.  Gone were the comforts of a cramped, solitary life, but in their place was the bright promise of a new life spent exploring a bright and glorious new world.  What a trade-off.  I wish I’d done it sooner.

This was a composite of 3 images.  I shot the box and the self-portrait against a black backdrop and then went out and found a separate background to throw into the mix, something that felt bright and matched the lighting scheme I was going for.
I lit the box with a single strobe with a honey-grid and used a small card to provide some fill light from the left side.  I used the same lighting setup with my portrait, except I transitioned to a beauty dish for my main light and used a 3-foot reflector for fill.
I shot the box using a macro lens, and set my focus manually so that it wouldn’t shift while I was shooting.  I then went out and found my background and used the same focus point to shoot it.  So the image was already out-of-focus in-camera, no artificial blur here.
Compositing was really easy because of the black backdrop.  I just used the magic wand tool and made a few small corrections to the selections.  If only compositing was this easy all the time!  I did desaturate the background and add some brush/lighting effects to separate the background from the foreground.  I also added a golden/warm glowing to the background to give the impression of the “bright unknown” outside my box.  That’s basically the gist of this image.
I was inspired this week to really examine the areas in my life where I’ve confined myself and find ways to step out of my comfort zone.  I realize that there are many things that I could accomplish in life if I wasn’t held back by fear, and so one of the things I’m trying to do is challenge myself to find ways to intentionally do things that make me uncomfortable (be it speaking in public, making cold-calls, or laying down on the sidewalk of a busy street).  Fear of people, fear of uncertain outcomes, fear of failure, all these things inhibit us from achieving great things.  They constrain us and force us into living average, everyday lives; lives that fall short of our true potential and the true purpose that God has called us to.  Anyways, that’s what I’ve been mulling over lately.
Hope this post encourages you to step out and explore your true potential.  Are there things that intimidate you or cause your heart-rate to increase?  Consider forcing yourself into those situations more often, if only to become better at handling those types of situations.  The sooner we learn to overcome the little things that dog us and get in the way, the sooner we’ll be able to tackle the bigger more challenging aspects of life.  Eventually these small things that bother us will be nothing more than distant memories.  Boy wouldn’t that be great…

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