Wendy in Drewstaignton ’79


Time for another ‘photos from my past’ post, we’re still in 1979 but we’ve had a camera ‘upgrade’.

This photo was taken in August ’79, in a small village in Devon called Drewstaignton, which is just on the edge of Dartmoor. I was there on a National Trust working holiday, which were then called ‘Acorn Camps’ (they still exist, but are no longer called this) where we spent a week living in the village hall and doing menial jobs on behalf of the trust in the nearby woodland of the Castle Drogo estate. It was great fun when I was 18, probably would be less so now.. The girl in called Wendy, and she came from Yeovil, and oddly enough at the time we looked enough alike to be plausible as fraternal twins.

I’d bought my Pentax K1000 by this time but as it was very new and I was very nervous about taking it out and about (in a way I’d never be with a camera now) I didn’t take it. I took a Russian FED 4 which I picked up cheaply in the now defunct Logan Cameras in Walton centre. I’m pretty sure this was actually one of the only times I actually used the thing because while today they have something of a cult following, it’s actually a bloody pig to use and the rangefinder focussing was always far more a matter of luck than anything! I still have it and periodically think I ought to put a roll of film through it for old time’s sake, and also because now I’d be able to write a blog post about retro camera use. Though over the intervening quarter century the rangefinder focussing appears to have got even less user friendly: possibly as a result of it sitting in the bottom of cupboards…brooding my photographic demise.

As you can see, I still wan’t really much of a photographer. Clearly nobody had told me the Robert Capa dictum about being close enough as I could have taken about 30 paces forwards and still got her all in. Why in retrospect I went for a full body shot at all is a mystery, head and shoulders would have been better if what I wanted was a photo of her. But even full length did I really need so much of the traffic island? I think not. I left the exposure up to the FED’s light meter, I suspect the light wasn’t great but even so I can see it plotting my photographic demise even then. She’s also standing funny, I think now I’d have done something about that too. If anybody reading this knows Wendy Ball (now probably Wendy ‘something else’) late of Yeovil, feel free to re-unite her with this photo…for which she will then probably hunt me down and kill me.

It’s shot on Kodak Kodacolour II and scanned in using the Epson Scan software on a Perfection 3490 flatbed scanner.

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