Ariane reaches a section with few trees and drives her SUV off the road.

“Hey, you can’t just leave the road,” exclaims Rachel.

“This is an all terrain vehicle, it is built for off-road driving. Besides we are just going over that hill.” answers Ariane.

roadtrip3The other side of the hill turns out to have more trees which Ariane has to drive through.

Rachel is panicking, but Ariane loves this kind of stuff.

“Don’t worry, I do this all the time,” says Ariane, “Besides we are almost back on pavement, so to speak.”


“What road are we on?” asks Rachel, “This road is not on my GPS app.”

“It wouldn’t be, this is an old highway decommissioned a couple of decades ago.”

Ariane continues, “As you can tell, it’s rough going, lots of pot holes, but it will drop us off at the old Echo Canyon campground.”

“Wow, that is very convenient. That is a mile hike of switchbacks into the canyon we don’t have to do,” says Rachel rather impressed. “Why did they decommission it, seems very useful.”

“Mostly because a section of the road had to be rebuilt every time the river overflowed, which usually happens every spring.”

“Yes, that would get expensive,” says Rachel.


“Wait! That means that there is no road ahead!”

“Only a couple of meters, we should be able to clear it.” says Ariane reassuringly, “unless it got bigger since the last time I did this three years ago.”

“That’s not reassuring.”

“Hang on!”


The SUV is airborne for about a full second as it clears the gap, but it seems a lot longer to Rachel as she screams her disapproval.

They land on an embankment, a short distance from the park boundary.

“See, now wasn’t that fun?”, asked Ariane reassuringly. “Look, we’re here.”

Rachel looks back at the jump they made, and it wasn’t as death defying as she imagined.

“Ariane, you are one crazy bitch.”

“Thanks, it’s one of my defining characteristics.”


A short distance into the park, there is a bridge overlooking a pond. Rachel decides this is the best place to take her photos.

“I’m setting up multiple cameras. Both will take pictures every 5 seconds. This one will change its aperture as the sky gets darker, and this second one will adjust the shutter speed. These are both likely to lose focus in different ways as the sky gets darker, but it will triple the number of photos to choose from.” says Rachel.

“I have no idea what you just said.” says Ariane.

“I am going to take a lot of photos in a short time, and we will figure out the best one to submit,” says Rachel.

“Ah, got it.”


A Park Ranger comes by, “Good afternoon ladies, looks like you are setting up for a photo shoot?”

Rachel answers, “Yes, it is a college class project.”

“Well the rule is you can use a hand held camera all you want, but to set up extra stuff you need a permit,” says the Park Ranger.

“Dang, I don’t have one. We’re only here for a half an hour can you make an exception?” asks Rachel.

“Sorry, I am not allowed. Permit fees are part of our budget. If you go to the park office, they can set you up.”

“I don’t have that kind of time, sunset is approaching,” says Rachel dejectedly. “OK, I’ll take down the tripods.”

“Thank you, get a permit next time.”

“I will.”


Rachel takes down the extra cameras.

“Let me get some test shots,” suggests Rachel. “You’ll need to stand in the middle of the bridge near the rail, Feel free to sit on the rail if you want.”

“What should I do?” asks Ariane.

“Just pose how ever you want. Just change it every few seconds.”

“Also I may ask for different expressions. Smile? Pout? Distant stare?” Ariane tries different looks as Rachel calls them out. “Good!” says Rachel.


“Hey look we are getting some clouds in the sky,” says Rachel excitedly.

“Wow, that’s lucky,” observes Ariane. “Clear skies do not produce good sunsets.”

“The lucky part is I know someone who can control the weather,” says Rachel. “And right on time, too. They are already turning orange.”

Before Ariane could ask for an explanation, Rachel got into photographer mode. “The orange dress I got is in the car, you can change there or use one of the campground bathrooms.”


When Ariane returns wearing the dress, the sky is already turning orange.

“This dress looks like an old prom dress,” observed Ariane.

“Yeah I know, not the most in style of dresses, but it is the only orange dress I had access to. Hope it fits.”

“It’s a little loose in places, but I can make do,” says Ariane. “I’ll try and keep my tits from slipping out.”

“Funny,” says Rachel as she continues to take pictures.

For the next 15 minutes or so, Rachel barks orders to Ariane on how to stand, where to look, and what facial expression she should use.

After sunset they pack up and go home. It is dark as they “four wheel it” back to the broken highway, but that is what all the extra spotlights on her SUV are for.

Rachel is a bit more relaxed on the trip home, trusting Ariane to drive as she scans through the digital photos on the camera.


A few days later Rachel invites Ariane downtown to the “unveiling” of the finished photo.

“Hello Ariane, glad you can make it.”

“Thanks for the invite, so what is this “Young Artists Gala” and why did I have to dress up for it?”

“It’s an event the museum puts on annually this time of year to introduce their Young Local Artists exhibit that they do until the end of the year. The photo I took of you will be on display.”

“The one in that hideous dress? Oh great!”

Rachel smiles, “Don’t worry it turned out fine.”

“For a fancy prestigious event, the crowd seems a bit small,” Ariane observes.

“True, there are only three type that come to these things: The artists, their guests, and patrons looking for cheap art or cheap young artists.”

“Like that blonde woman over there,” continues Rachel, “she buys art for The Ellison Group to hang in lobbies of their real estate holdings.”

“So a picture of me could hang in a hotel lobby?” asks Ariane.

“Possibly, if the orange/brown color of the photo matches the decor of the lobby. That is where minimal contrast style photos tend to end up — somewhere they won’t be noticed.”


The gala introduces numerous artists and shows their work. Drawing, painting and design work seems to dominate, but Rachel finally gets her turn.

The museum guide introduces her. “Our next young artist is a famous supermodel who is looking to move behind the camera, meet Rachel Spahr.”


The photo appears on the monitor behind Rachel as she speaks.

“So this is the picture I submitted, it was an assignment to use minimal color so it is a woman in an orange dress taken during sunset, which blends with the autumnal scene in the background.”

The small crowd applauds politely.


After her presentation, Rachel and Ariane check out the framed photo in the exhibit.

“So what do you think?” asks Rachel.

“Very orange.” says Ariane making an obvious review. Rachel is looking for more though.

“It would look very nice hanging in my kitchen,” Ariane finally said.

“Oh yeah it would,” says Rachel taking the compliment, “I’ll send you a signed copy if you want.”

“Thanks, I’d like that.”


There is a lull in the conversation.

“I studied some Art History,” says Ariane, “If you want we could tour the museum?”

“Or, we could go back to my place,” says Rachel.

Ariane smiles. They leave together.



Gallery of full sized images: