r o b i n   s o m e s   .   p h o t o g r a p h e r

Things that inspire me include landscapes, plants, sunsets and mountains, rainforests and deserts, rivers and the sea; architecture, especially old architecture, weather-beaten and dilapidated buildings, streets and signs. I'm not much of a photographer of people, or of still life - I'm usually more than happy just to admire others' work in that respect.

Mostly, I shoot hand-held, as far as possible using natural light. I have a tendency to take a hundred snaps when one carefully-considered shot would do just as well, however, I like the accidental little gems you sometimes get as a result. I also like to portray familiar things or places from an unfamiliar stance, and to make the best of a bad situation - to see what can be salvaged from being in the wrong position, in terrible light, and with the wrong lens.

For what it's worth (in reality, very little), I have used Nikon cameras for nearly 25 years now; I've found them consistent, reliable, and very good quality for a comparatively modest outlay. I would guess the same is true, however, for most of the other well-known brands. I'm a bit of a late-adopter. I use an old Nikon D70s digital, with 18 - 70mm and 75 - 300 zoom lenses. As well as the two zooms, I also use a 50mm prime lens; I appreciate the way it forces and constrains the type of shot that can be taken.

When I can't be bothered to carry all that around, I have a Fuji Finepix, which fits into a pocket nicely and is cheap enough that it wouldn't matter if I dropped it. I used to use a Nikon F801 film camera; in 2006 I got the D70s, put the old film camera down, and have never touched it since, other than to take the batteries out. It's a shame, because I think film is still vastly superior in the quality of its results, but predictability, portability, convenience, cost, and the Delete button have all won out.

I shoot in .jpg format, rather than RAW - it's laziness, nothing else, that stops me from experimenting more. Usually I limit my use of software to cropping, resizing, sharpening, and tweaking brightness and contrast. The software I use is PaintShop Pro, version 7 (I maintain that Corel ruined a perfectly good program in its later versions). Once in a while I will experiment with different effects, but the results aren't generally gratifying, in the long term. Perhaps where I've found it most useful is in photos taken from a plane, where there's a great deal of atmospheric haze; tweaking the black and white points of the histogram can cut right through it and reveal the landscape below, but it always looks rather artificial.

So far as I can remember, I have never in my life used layers to combine two photos; this is not a pompous boast, simply an observation. I just don't have that kind of patience. The photos which give me the greatest pleasure, of which I am most proud, are most often the simplest, the most classical in their composition, and the closest to what the camera first captured.