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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?

Photographer’s Block

Writers get writer’s block so maybe what I’m suffering from is photographer’s block. And it’s making me sad and frustrated and angry. The symptoms are as follows:

  1. The idea of picking up my camera fills me with dread (or occasionally excitement which is quickly dashed).
  2. Every picture I take is either underexposed, overexposed, out of focus or just plain ugly.
  3. If I do manage to grab a few just-about-acceptable shots, I cannot – CANNOT – process them to save my life.

I think it’s this last one that’s annoying me the most. I used to be able to take an average shot, tweak the tones and contrast a bit, and the picture would pop out at me. I’d be happy. Now, I can spend hours in Lightroom and all I’ll have to show for it are some flat, uninspiring snapshots. It’s driving me nuts. And seriously making me unhappy. I know that sounds pathetic, but really. Taking pictures made me happy. Not being able to take pictures makes me grouchy.

Yesterday, I tried to blow some fresh air into my routine by investing in some Lightroom presets that I’ve been lusting over for ages: Rebecca Lily’s Pro Lightroom Presets (from here). I’d never bought presets before and was a bit nervous. I didn’t know how they’d work of whether I’d really like them (a lot of the time, when I think I’m falling in love with photoshop actions, it’s really the photographer I’m falling in love with, not the actions. So I stopped buying actions a long time ago). Anyway, Rebecca’s presets really do live up to expectations. They are gorgeous. And they are helping me to look at my pictures a little differently. But still. This just means that I’m spending hours flicking through all the different presets trying to decide which one I like most. The truth is, I love them all. I love the natural, not-overworked, filmy look they create. They are all stunning.

(edited with Rebecca Lily’s presets – the color one is straight out of LR. The black and white one I played with in PS but only to add some experimental color streaks. I don’t know if you can even see them)

Really though, what I think I need to get me out of this rut is a bit of daylight. Spring. Air. Life. I like winter. I love Christmas and I love snow. But this year… This year it’s just taking far too long. It needs to be over now. I’m done with it. And it’s getting me down. I’ve never run in the spring. I want to be able to get up in the morning and see the sun rising. I want to be able to work until 7 and still cycle home with some warmth in the air and a glow in the sky. I want to be able to go outside without Charlie bursting into tears because of the cold. I want to see people sitting on terraces having fun in the evening. And grass replacing mud, leaves disguising the bare branches. I’m ready for Spring. More ready than I’ve ever felt before.

20 January 2013 - 4:22 PM Ingrid - I love your photographs..let us be clear about that part. They truly are beautiful and show such a wonderful representation of the love that's going on in your life. I too have had photographers block and maybe should follow suit like you and post photos..but I don't but I should..and I am so glad you do. Now that I've babbled on...I'll tell you what has worked for me as of late. I've grabbed my phone and have really been conscious of my surrounding knowing I am not lugging the big camera (by the way how are you liking your new one?) but still have an opportunity to capture the now. I of course had my favorite girl next to me which always inspires me (as in your case).. I know winter is beautiful to a point. As far as the processing part..I've told you it's my weakness. That's for another time :) But let me end where I started..I love your photographs and they have brought much pleasure and smiles :) Bring on Spring!

25 January 2013 - 7:51 AM Gosia Maik - Oh I know those blocks so well... And it happens during winter most of the times:) Maybe it's because we miss sunshine even more than we think we do? I hope your new presets will be exactly what you need. I found your blog by the link Ralph published on flickr and I'm amazed by your photos, if that's the block than I can't wait what will happen when spring comes!

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