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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?

Happy again

It has been months since I have been really excited about any of my pictures. MONTHS. I don’t know what it was. I hit a wall. The winter darkness seemed to be dragging on for far too long. I lost my energy. I gave up on even picking up my camera and relied on my iPod instead (I’m not even cool enough to have an iPhone for heaven’s sake). Even on the few occasions that I managed to pick up my camera and take a few shots, that’s as far as I would get. Because as soon as those pictures were on my computer – my ancient (in computing terms), creaking, processing at snail’s speed computer – they wound just fall flat. I had no enthusiasm to hunt out anything worth saving. Everything just looked ugly to me. And then… And then she arrived.

I had been wanting a wider than 50mm lens for a while. Over Chistmas, I went into a camera shop and just bought one. I got Canon’s cheapest 24mm lens. She’s fun but I didn’t love her. And before I was even home, I was starting to get buyer’s remorse. What had I done? Why didn’t I do some research first? This lens just didn’t feel right for me. Basically, the poor girl was already on her way out before she had stepped over the threshold. Since then, a lot of research has been done. And it was during this research that I read about Sigma’s new Art range of lenses. One of their first lenses in this range is a 35mm f1.4. After reading a few (about a hundred) reviews, I was convinced: this was the lens for me. So I plucked up the courage (and the savings) to order it. Twice as it turns out because the first time I accidentally ordered the one with the Sigma mount (not used to buying lenses that come with all sorts of different mounts!). I had to wait a while as even Amazon was out of stock, but she finally arrived last week. And oh boy! I cannot describe this lens to you. I actually want to kiss it. A lot. She makes the most beautiful pictures out of nothing. She is magic. And for the first time in months, I’m EXCITED about photography again.

I mean look!I’d heard people talk about the “quality of blur” before and always thought they were talking out of their bums. Turns out: some blur is better than others and this lens delivers creamy gorgeous blur by the bucket-load whilst remaining tack sharp and full of mind-boggling detail where you want it. I’m pretty sure it even delivers better quality light and – not even joking – better colours than my other lenses. I have a feeling she might be with me for a long (loooooong) time.

Oh, and the story behind these pictures: Amélie had asked me to put her hair up in a towel like this for the first time. She looked so lovely I ran to grab my camera. The first few shots had her grinning her camera grin (all mouth no eyes) and I was about to give up when Hanno started shouting in the other room. I can’t remember what he was shouting about. He might have stubbed his toe. Or maybe Charlie was peeing on the floor – again. Or was it that the phone wasn’t working? Can’t remember. Anyway, it certainly didn’t sound bad enough for me to be rushing anywhere. Amélie’s face, on the other hand, had completely changed: it was – albeit fleetingly – all worry. Because I’m a horrible mother, I immediately clicked the shutter. Twice. Then put the camera down to reassure her (and check on Han). I know that’s not the order my priorities should be in. I know! But look. Look at that face. Gah! She takes my breath away.

25 February 2013 - 12:12 AM Twaambo - :) she made me grin your lil monkey!she is gorgeous!

25 February 2013 - 1:49 AM Ingrid - That is some serious beautifulness there ..not caring if that is not a word. WOW. I'm about to google the sigma..wow. Amelie looks beautiful as always. You should always be excited as I think you have always produced gorgeous photographs..but I do have to agree this is stunning.

25 February 2013 - 3:24 AM Sharlene - amelie ALWAYS looks stunning, but these pictures...wow. she literally does take your breath away. and you have totally made me want to buy that sigma lens now! off to do the same as ingrid...google! haha ;p

25 February 2013 - 2:57 PM ralph - Goodness Cass. WOW. You weren't kidding. First of all, your girl is such a natural beauty it makes your heart skip a beat. I mean seriously. But focusing on Ms Sigma for a second, whoa. That background IS super creamy and she's perfectly in focus w/o being over sharp. I am so so impressed with it. You're gonna make me get one!!! ;))

25 February 2013 - 8:47 PM Janan - Super Cute. I am a big FAN of your new Lens already. Ameelie looks CUTE and Natural. I am glad that you're excited about photography again:)

26 February 2013 - 11:56 PM nikki - Thank you so much for sharing. These are gorgeous.....sounds like you need to take your camera on a weekend get away though.....

27 February 2013 - 12:52 AM Cindy - Wow! Love-love the way you wrote this article, everything about it to be precise! And more importantly, I agree the image is absolutely beautiful in all the ways you described here. Congrats to you in finding new inspiration, and wonderful lens!

27 February 2013 - 1:08 AM Matt McGuire - Nice photos. The Sigma really does look like a quality lens.

27 February 2013 - 5:56 PM Nancy - These pictures are fantastic!!! I love the all-white-and-blur in contrast to her face! She's a beauty by the way! Oh my, and now I have to go and have a look on this lense... :)

28 February 2013 - 4:27 AM amanda - omg I soooo love these shots and SO WANT THAT LENS!!!!! Does it work on nikon? xox

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