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 the night sky, moonlight, landscapes, plants, sunsets and mountains, rainforests and deserts, and the sea; architecture, especially old architecture, weather-beaten and dilapidated buildings, streets and signs. I'm rarely awake to see sunrises; if I am, I'm in no mood for photography. I'm not much of a photographer of people - I'm usually more than happy just to admire others' work in that respect. Most of the photographers whose work I regard as classic worked (or work) in B&W; from a very long list of possibilities, I would randomly choose 3: Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh and Martin Chambi.

Mostly, I shoot hand-held, using natural light. I tend to take a hundred snaps when one carefully-considered shot would do just as well, however, I like the accidental little gems one sometimes gets 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 place, in bad light, with the wrong lens.

The photos which give me the greatest pleasure ... are often the simplest, the most classical in their composition, the closest to what the camera first captured, and sometimes, completely accidental.
For what it's worth, I've used Nikon cameras for nearly 30 years now; I've found them consistent, reliable, and very good quality for a comparatively modest outlay. I'm sure the same is true, however, for Canon and most of the other major brands.

When I can't be bothered to carry all the kit around - which is most of the time, because with the bag and various peripheral bits, it's getting on for 25 kilos - I use my phone; some of those results are visible on Instagram. I've had some great results with the Nokia Lumia 1020. The Lumia was good enough that, when I spent three weeks in Iceland in 2014, without a DSLR, I used the phone, and didn't really miss the DSLR at all. I like the Instagram app, but in my opinion, it's outclassed by Hipstamatic Oggl.

I like ... to make the best of a bad situation - to see what can be salvaged from being in the wrong place, in bad light, with the wrong lens.
For over 15 years, I used a Nikon F801 film camera; in 2006 I got a DSLR, put the old film camera down, and I've rarely touched it since, other than to take the batteries out. That's a shame, because I think film still has a lot going for it in the quality of its results, but predictability, versatility, speed, cost, convenience and the Delete button have all won out. It, and an ancient Russian Lubitel mid-format camera I bought for £20 some time around 1990, did get an outing to Iceland in 2014, though, which proved worthwhile, in a rather retro kind of way.

Finally, and completely differently, I have been experimenting with cyanotypes. Perhaps a throwback to learning photography and developing at art college in the 1980s, and some B&W printing I did in the early 90s, I like the immediacy of cyanotypes, the less rigorous nature of the process (and fewer toxic and stinky chemicals), and the air of complete mystery over what the result will be. Many of the original photos for the cyanotypes were taken in Iceland, and I also found that the medium suited the starkness and austere beauty of the country well. A few modest examples can be seen here.

I generally shoot JPG format, not RAW; for processing I primarily use Lightroom, Photoshop CC and CS2, the Google Nik Collection and (because I still know all the keyboard shortcuts off by heart) PaintShop Pro, version 7. I'm a late adopter.

I don't often use layers and masking to combine images. I love others' work in that vein, when it's skillfully done - for instance my friend Asia Pracz's work. For myself, like photographing people, I just don't often have the right kind of patience, so I'm happy to leave it to people who do. The photos which give me the greatest pleasure, of which I am most proud, are often the simplest, the most classical in their composition, the closest to what the camera first captured, and sometimes, completely accidental.