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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?


Today, I did the opposite of what I’d normally do if I wanted to take pictures: I waited for the sun to go down. Completely down. Not golden hour down. I mean gone. Total darkness. I’m always looking for new challenges, new things to try, and I’ve been wanting to make darker, maybe more interesting, more unusual pictures for a while. But I didn’t know how. It hadn’t occurred to me to just wait for there to be no light. The images that were inspiring me weren’t taken at night. They just had a dark, muted quality to them. Clever use of shadow. Gorgeous earthy tones. I still haven’t figured out how to replicate the look to be honest. But then something else caught my eye – an article about taking nighttime shots and making the most of available light, like shop windows, street lights, illuminated advertising panels (they’re basically gigantic soft boxes) and so on. It immediately made me want to take pictures. And I love anything that makes me feel like that. So I asked Amélie yesterday evening if she would mind venturing out with me after dark today to be my muse and to experiment with me. Fortunately she said yes.

I pester the poor thing quite relentlessly for pictures so I wouldn’t have been surprised (or angry) if she’d said “no”. Charlie is still too little, with far too many ants in his pants, to understand the concept of standing still while I adjust all the settings on my camera. Actually, I lie: he’s old enough to keep still for exactly the amount of time it takes me to do that. It’s just that he then darts out of shot in the fraction of a second it takes me to hit the shutter release button. So it was Amélie or nothing. And miraculously, not only did she say yes, but she was still keen today as the light seeped out of the sky and the world was submerged into inky blackness. We had only been outside for about 15 minutes when she asked if we could go home again but in that time, I’d already taken more shots I was excited about than in the whole of last weekend. And last weekend we went to the beach and to the botanical gardens. I may never take a picture in daylight again. These are the first two shots I took. They aren’t even shots I was excited about (I’m keeping those until I have a little more time to play with editing and see what kinds of settings work best with darkness). But aren’t they gorgeous anyway? By no means perfect, but interesting. Yes? Maybe? I don’t know. But I do know I like them. And that the ones I got excited about on the back of my camera are going to be even better. I can’t wait!Oh, and if you’re interested, here’s that article: Stealing Light – Using Street Lights for Portraits.

21 February 2014 - 11:08 AM LTWRL – Week 2 – The Story Behind the Picture » BRUSSELS IS BORING - [...] bit of the story behind these pictures can be found here. I took them just before the launch of LTWRL but needed some time to edit them. I usually take my [...]

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