37. Nude by moonlight, Wairarapa pastorale

Nude by moonlight, Wairarapa pastorale. 22 February 1979

Now this isn’t my usual sort of exposure. One late summer’s evening I propped my bicycle out of sight against a fence, not far from where I was living near Masterton, a country town northeast of Wellington. I wandered over the hills to wait for the moonrise… while I preferred company clearly none was around that night, so I was obliged to pose for my own photo.

With Kodachrome 64 in my Pentax Spotmatic, and an exposure of 15 minutes in mind, I framed the scene with a 28mm wide angle before taking up this pose within it. The wide angle was chosen to help with depth of field, but it was a pain to compose with, as the f2.5 maximum aperture transmitted so little light for viewing.

Having got in the curve of the ridge, I then had to decide on a simple pose for the duration. I locked open the cable release and darted in, the self-timer being unavailable on the B setting. My movements at beginning and end do not show up as they are only a tiny fraction of the total exposure, although anyone doing this while dragging on a cigarette, say, would leave an ember trail.

I hadn’t reckoned on my long shadow on the left, but this is unexpectedly balanced by the vignetting on the right margin. I counted out the 15 minutes; the actual exposure is unknown but it accommodated the slow-down from reciprocity (the colour shift is from the same cause). It was also time enough for a star trail to be just visible top right; not surprisingly, star trails are much shorter on wide angles.

Fortunately it was a mild evening. Of course I rather like my youthful figure and the full head of hair, but as Oscar Wilde once said: “Youth is a gift of nature, Age is a work of art”, and don’t we all love Art status.