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Golden Hour

Golden Hour

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Golden Hour

362 pages
6 heures
Aug 26, 2018


Kyle Murray, out taking landscape pictures, meets a girl taking selfies beside the road. Chelsea Walsh is wearing a skimpy bathing suit, which makes Kyle's eyes pop. They have entirely different approaches to photography, and both use their pictures to supplement mediocre day-job income. They help each other with their photography and a relationship develops.

Chelsea is forced to relocate for a living-wage job, and Kyle then moves to a much better job creating an even-greater separation. Both date others but keep in touch. Kyle tries to form other relationships, but the results are hilariously disastrous. Chelsea's are ho-hum. No cameras are involved in either's new relationship attempts, though Kyle does take some pictures. Chelsea can no longer do bathing suit selfies as she would be fired if she were found out.

A long-distance relationship can't work for them, so they have to get close up.
Aug 26, 2018

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Golden Hour - Wes Boyd


Chapter 1

Golden Hour

An Independent Novel

by Wes Boyd

The dirt road was a nice place for Kyle Murray to be riding his bike on a delightful summer day. It was warm, but not too warm. This late in the afternoon there were a few dissipating clouds in the sky, but the air was clear indeed for this time of year. It was just too nice to be sitting inside with nothing much to do, and on evenings like this Kyle had something he enjoyed doing.

Kyle’s bicycle was a little odd – a heavy-duty frame, big, fat knobby tires, and a dozen gears, along with other modifications made it the perfect weapon for the kind of riding Kyle liked to do in the kind of places he liked to do it. It was not fast, but he preferred to take his time, because he liked to stop frequently and pull out his small camera if something caught his attention. Sometimes a bird or another object would cause him to lift his lightweight binoculars for a closer examination. His primary interest was photography, however, not the riding, and he was always looking for the right scene to capture. Something usually managed to catch his eye on such rides.

This time, something did.

He was riding down a nondescript gravel road when he noticed a car parked on the berm near an old iron bridge ahead of him. That the bridge was there at all was a little strange – such iron bridges had mostly vanished in the last few years, and this one didn’t appear to be in very good shape so probably was long overdue for replacement.

He briefly wondered if the car was parked along the road because of some kind of trouble. But, as he pedaled closer, he realized there was something a little strange going on. He could see a girl wearing a bikini leaning up against the ironwork of the bridge, and then a few more pushes on the pedals of his bike put him in a position so he could see that she was posing for a camera on a tripod in front of the car. The strange thing was that no one else was around. As he drew closer, the girl left her place, walked quickly over to the camera, fiddled with it for an instant, then hustled back to where she had been posing before. That made sense, in a way; she was obviously the photographer as well as the model, and was using the camera timer to take her self-portraits.

Not wanting to disturb the tableaux in front of him, he slowed his bicycle to just about minimum. This was interesting. The girl was, well, attractive – not a stunning beauty, but tallish and slender and good-looking. She wore dark-framed glasses and had her dark brown, nearly black, hair up in a bun behind her head. Incongruously, there was a pencil poked into her hair on one side of her head. Only now did he notice that she wasn’t actually wearing a bikini, but a monokini – a rather scanty bikini top and bottom with a thin connection of crocheted lace between them. The lace didn’t cover much, and neither did the top nor the bottom.

As he watched, she set up for another photo, got into a slightly different pose, and waited until there was a flash from the tripod-mounted camera, which appeared to be an expensive one. Then she looked up at him and said, Hi.

Hi to you too, he replied, bringing the bike to a stop and putting his feet down to stabilize it. I hope I’m not disturbing anything, but I didn’t want to get into your picture.

No, just getting a few snapshots, she replied with a nice smile. I’m almost done here.

The light is pretty nice, isn’t it? he replied noncommittally.

Not bad, but I hope it will be even nicer later. I want to take advantage of a day like this.

Kyle was more than a little curious about what she was up to, why she was taking swimsuit shots of herself, but he kept his inquisitiveness in bounds. It was really none of his business, after all. You’re going to be doing this more? was the best he could come up with.

Yes, but somewhere else. There’s a barn up the road a ways I think would make a good background.

Well, maybe I’d better let you get to it. I can ride on up the road, or stay here so I don’t get in your picture.

You might as well go on, she replied. I want to make a couple of changes to this setup, and you ought to be far enough away by the time I get the camera reset that if you’re in the distance it won’t matter.

It wasn’t as if he had been invited to leave but it sort of felt that way. He was still curious about what was going on but not to the point to where he thought he could ask. He got his feet back on the pedals and began to ride slowly up the road. Perhaps a hundred yards away he glanced back over his shoulder, to see that she was moving the camera and tripod, probably to get another angle on the scene. In a way it was rather disappointing; she was a good-looking girl, though not quite super-model spectacular – not exactly how he would have expected a swimsuit model to look, but certainly interesting. It would have been nice to talk with her some more; he hadn’t met a lot of good-looking women since he’d moved to the area for his new job. To the extent that he’d looked, most of the available single women here were on the well-fed side, to put it mildly. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but he hadn’t exactly met any that had lit his fire, so to speak.

He didn’t actively think about it for long. A quarter of a mile or so up the road he came across a solitary sunflower growing just off the road – but situated in a spot that offered a nice view of a corn field rolling off in the distance. It seemed to offer some potential for the kind of photo he liked to take. He stopped the bike, laid it down, and took out his pocket camera to examine the scene more carefully for its picture potential. In the cold, snowy, and unappealing days of winter it would be the kind of thing he could pull up and process to its full extent. If everything worked out, the picture might even be framed and offered for sale.

It was not the kind of scene that called for a snapshot; the photo had to be composed how he liked it. Nothing was quite perfect, so he took his time, trying to get everything as right as he could. He wasn’t paying any attention to what was going on around him until he heard a car pulling to a stop a few yards away. He glanced up to see the girl getting out of the car. Hi again, she said. That is kind of an interesting view, isn’t it?

It has potential, he said, noticing a little to his surprise that she wasn’t wearing the near-bikini she’d had on up the road. Now she had on a rather colorful strapless one-piece swimsuit, cut high in the leg. Remembering the scene up the road, he realized she must have changed out in the open after he’d left. I may be able to do something with it.

Would you mind if I used it for one of my own shots? It won’t be the same picture, not with me in it.

Feel free, he smiled, getting even more curious about the brunette wearing the swimsuit. Do you mind if I stand around and watch? I’ve been wondering what you’re up to.

It’s a long story, she shrugged as she went to one of the back doors of her car and pulled out the camera and tripod. I need to have a number of swimsuit shots of me, and I have to get them when I can. I don’t want to let light like this go to waste. If you can help me just a little I can get through this setup more quickly.

Sure. It was a small price to pay for an opportunity to find out more about what was going on. Somehow he suspected there was a story there. What do you need me to do?

Just go stand by the side of the road near the sunflower so I can frame the shot and get the exposure and focus right.

He did as he was told, while she set up the tripod and glanced through the camera viewfinder. Unlike his little pocket camera, her camera apparently needed a lot of manual settings. She had him move this way and that a little, and moved the camera and tripod a couple of times until she had what she wanted. When she seemed happy with her setup – and it took a couple of minutes – she set a small white piece of plastic between his feet to mark the spot where he was standing. This ought to work out pretty good, she said. Now, you move out of the way. I’ll set the timer and pose.

He stood back well out of the way, far enough back that he thought to pull out his pocket camera and take several snapshots of the whole scene – the car, the camera, and the swimsuited girl. It still seemed more than a little odd that she was doing this, and he couldn’t help but wonder about why.

She took a couple shots with the timer then checked how they looked on the camera display screen. That ought to work, she commented.

It has to be a little complicated to have to do everything with the timer, he observed.

It is, and I have to take a lot of shots to get what I want, she agreed. I experimented with an infra-red remote shutter release, but the camera has to see it and I don’t want it in my hand. It just didn’t look right.

If you can get set up the way you want, I can stand here and push the button for you.

Oh, would you? she smiled. It would be a big help. I’ll do a number of different poses, and it would help a lot if you could take two or three shots in each pose.

It couldn’t have taken more than a couple minutes. After finishing the series, she came over, changed the camera setup slightly, and went back to pose for it some more. In a few minutes they were done, and she was packing up again. Thanks, she said. That saved a lot of time. You’ve been a big help. I should be able to squeeze in an extra set or two of scenes tonight.

Glad I could help, he said. He realized he hadn’t learned any more about what was going on, just that she seemed to be a very pleasant girl, was rather businesslike, and obviously no amateur with a camera.

I’m going to drive up the road a ways and look for another place to set up, she said. If you catch up with me on your bike, I’d appreciate it if you’d help me out again.

Sure, I’d be glad to. If you don’t go too far I ought to be able to catch you again.

It didn’t take her long to have everything packed up; by that time Kyle was back on his bike and riding slowly up the road. She passed him a minute or two later, going slowly to keep the dust down, and sped up when she was well past him. In the distance he could see her brake lights flash, and he watched as she got out of the car, probably to check out a possible scene.

She was setting up the camera and tripod again as he rode up to her. She was still wearing the same strapless one-piece swimsuit, and from where the camera was sitting, he could see that it was aimed at a fence with some horses on the far side of the fence in the background. He thought it would make a nice scene to pose against, although it wasn’t a shot he would have selected for himself. He would have chosen a spot a little farther up the road, with the horses more prominent in the scene, but it was clear that wasn’t what she was aiming for. She was going to be the primary point of the picture – which was clear; her photos were about her, not about the scenery.

Once again he was the dummy that she used to set up the shot, but when she got in front of the camera she was again the model. Now that he’d had a chance to observe a little, he realized that her poses were not sophisticated, but casual. She was trying to act as if she were just another girl, not a high-end model, and in any case he felt she would have trouble bringing that one off. He’d seen a few of the photos they’d been taking on the viewing screen of the camera; in their small size, he could see she was getting some interesting shots. Of course, there must be millions if not billions of photos of girls in swimsuits on the Internet, but from what he could see on the tiny screen, these were, well, different in some way he couldn’t quite put to words.

It didn’t take long to do the shots, even with changing the camera settings. She spent a minute or two reviewing the photos that had been taken, and seemed satisfied with them. Not bad, she commented. I think there are some keepers in there.

Good, he smiled, reflecting that she was being rather professional about what she was doing. Somehow, that seemed a little odd, too. Maybe now was the time to satisfy his curiosity. I would like to ask why you’re doing this.

Oh, I have a website, she smiled. I put up new photo sets every week, on Sunday nights. I have to work ahead, because I’m not thrilled with taking swimsuit shots outside in the winter. I’ve done it when I had to but it’s not much fun, and the opportunity doesn’t come up often.

That’s different, he conceded. It’s all swimsuit shots of you, I take it?

Oh, yes, that’s the point. It’s always one-piece swimsuits, too. Well, back in the beginning before I had the theme all worked out there were a few bikini shots, but after a while I realized that bikinis weren’t the image I was trying to project. All the photos have something to do with roads, usually as a background. Between them, it’s something a little unique, something to stand out a little.

That’s interesting, he smiled. There was more to this than he had thought. Are you making any money off of it?

Some, she grinned. I’m not getting rich, that’s for sure, but I’m having fun with it. That may be the important part. Look, I want to get up the road and get the photo with that barn in the background while the light is still right for it. You’ve been a big help, and I wouldn’t mind it if you were to help me out more, but I need to get up there and get into a different swimsuit again. If I take off now, I can be changed by the time you get there. It’s a couple miles up the road.

Sure, get going. I’ll be along in a few minutes.

As before, it only took her a minute or two to have the camera and tripod in the car, and then she was off and driving again, while Kyle got on his bike and pedaled a little harder than he had earlier. From what little he’d learned, this girl was interesting, and what she was doing was different and fascinating. It was worth riding hard to see if he could find out a little more about her.

When he got to the barn a few minutes later, he noted that she had the camera and tripod set up, this time off of the road in a two-rut lane that led past the tumbledown building. But, he also saw that she’d changed her swimsuit again. He thought she must be a real quick-change artist to be able to do it out in the open like that. This one was a little hard to describe; it was a one-piece, of course, but there wasn’t much to it. It was a V-shaped affair, red on one side and white on the other, with the neckline down well below her navel. Strings were tied at her waist and just below her breasts. From a glimpse he got of her backside, there was nothing there but string and a tiny red and white triangle just above the crack of her butt. There was something about it that was incredibly sexy, much more so than the others he’d seen her wearing. Hey, I like the outfit, he commented, trying to be supportive but not aggressive about it.

I had to make this one, she said, busying herself with her camera. But I think it turned out well. Let’s get this setup done before we lose the light.

He could see what she meant by that. One wall of the crumbling barn was well lit, but the sun was creeping around and it would soon be in shadow. Even though time was flying by, he pulled out his little camera and grabbed a quick shot of the barn since the light was definitely interesting.

She soon took her place in front of her camera, while he again pushed the button for her. Until now, most of the shots had been more or less taken of her front side, sometimes at an angle, but this time she also posed so there was at least an angled view of her nearly bare backside. They kept at it for a while, changing angles and poses; he could see that she was getting some special photos out of this location, and she clearly wanted to take full advantage of it.

They got some of the best shots just as the last of the sunlight was hitting the barn wall. I think that’s going to be really good, she said as she checked the last of the shots they’d taken on the viewing screen. It’s too bad I can’t use the same setup for more than one week.

Let’s go on down the lane past the barn, he suggested. The lane and the cornfield to one side might make a pretty good shot. I can do it handheld if you like.

No, let’s use the tripod. I need a special format for some of the photos out of each setup, and the tripod helps me get it.

The setup proved to be pretty good – not as spectacular as the one with the barn in the background, at least in his opinion, but it wasn’t going to be a bad shot by any means. It took them only a few minutes to be done with it.

Would you like a Pepsi? she asked as they walked together back up to her car. I have a couple in the cooler. I feel like I at least ought to offer you one after all the help you’ve been.

I’d love one. I appreciate you being so kind.

I could stand one, too, she said, opening the trunk and pulling out the soft drinks, giving him an excellent view of her nearly bare backside in the process. We can take a short break, but then we’re going to be close to the golden hour. I think we should look for one more scene to take advantage of it, and I think in this outfit.

You’re the one doing this, he smiled as he took the drink from her. I’m just your volunteer helper, but it’s been interesting watching you work.

We’ve gotten several good, usable shots today, she replied. It’s always nice to have the option to be choosy, and with you helping I’m getting more photos than I expected.

Glad to help, he said. But wow, I’ll bet you go through a lot of swimsuits.

That’s one of the downsides, she agreed. I don’t mind using the same outfit more than once, but not too many times and not close together. This whole website deal is a lot more complicated than I expected it would be, but like I said, working with it is fun for me.

Somehow it looks like it. You seem to be pretty good with a camera.

I like to think so. I’ve always enjoyed photography, and I had some classes in it while I was in school. You seem to know something about it yourself.

I have a little hobby business with it. I take landscape shots, diddle with them in Photoshop a bit to make them a bit impressionistic, and then have them printed and frame them. I sell a few, sometimes through art shops, and some online. I’m not quite breaking even on it, but like you I’m doing what I like to do and it makes it seem there’s some kind of purpose in mind.

That’s one of my weak points, she replied, taking a big drink from her can of Pepsi. I mean, I don’t Photoshop my pictures much. I crop them, maybe adjust the saturation a little, and sometimes remove some small imperfections. I have a rather ugly mole on my left leg, and I wipe it out when it shows up. Things like that.

I’m no huge expert with it myself but I can usually do what I want to a photo, he agreed.

I’d be interested in seeing the kinds of things you do sometime, she smiled.

I think we can do that. There was something about this girl other than her bare butt that fascinated him, and her statement opened the door to seeing her again sometime, perhaps a little more casually. He reached in his pocket, and pulled out a business card. Give me a call sometime.

She took the card and glanced at it. Mercer-Howe Manufacturing? she smiled. What do you do there?

Purchasing and expediting, he replied. "I haven’t been there very long. So what’s your name?

Chelsea Walsh, she smiled. I don’t use it on the website, though. I want to keep at least a little degree of privacy. I’m known as Chastity White on my website.

I suppose that’s not a bad idea. There are some weird people out there.

You don’t know the half of it. That’s one of the downsides to this little deal, and I get more weirdos writing than I want to think about. I could tell you some stories you might have trouble believing.

Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.

Let’s not get into that now, she smiled. "I think the light tonight is going to be fantastic so let’s get set up for it. Look, about half a mile back down the road in the direction we came from there’s a crossroad. If we go about a quarter mile up it there’s a spot I think would be great, and we might be able to use it for two or three sets of pictures. Why don’t we go down and get ready?

Chapter 2

Photographers often call the last hour of the day the golden hour. The angle of the sun is low, and the light is often rich, soft, and saturated. Scenes that are flat and dull often spring to life when the light is right, and both Chelsea and Kyle knew it. That and why Chelsea wanted to make the most of the short period, often less than an hour.

Even with their short experience of working together they had learned to work quickly. Since Chelsea had arrived before him, she’d taken the opportunity to change swimsuits again, this time into a black job that had a zipper running down to near her crotch. Zipped up it would be pretty conservative, but she had it unzipped down to the vicinity of her navel, not that Kyle could actually see anything interesting.

She wore the swimsuit as they shot several scenes. Perhaps the best shots came as the sun was setting, with the flash on the camera providing fill lighting against the colorful sky. Well, I think that’s that for today, she said as they finished the final setup. I’m sure glad you came along; I was able to get at least twice as much done as I’d expected. That’ll allow me to be a little more selective when the time comes to use these.

Glad I could help, he replied. I had fun doing it, too. Feel free to call me sometime if you need help.

I think I’ll do that, she laughed. I know I haven’t told you a lot about my website, but at least you’re taking me seriously about it. It’s been nice to work with someone who knows something about photography and appreciates a creative vision.

That goes the other way around, too. Look, I’d offer to take you someplace for a drink or a snack or something, but I’m on a bicycle and it’s a good six miles back to my pickup.

I’d like that. Maybe we can do it some other time. Besides, I have to work tomorrow. I need to get back and look at what we’ve done on a bigger screen. But yes, let’s do it some other time. I don’t do these photos every night, just when I think the light is going to be right. I’ll give you a call when I want to do it again. Look, if you want, you could stash your bike in the weeds, and I could take you back to your car.

No, I’d love to take you up on it but I don’t know for sure if I could find the bike after dark.

Thus Kyle found himself riding the bike down the road in the gathering darkness. He knew it wasn’t the safest thing in the world to be doing, but traffic along these dirt roads was pretty sparse, and he could hear a vehicle coming for a long ways. Besides, it gave him a little time to think.

Chelsea seemed to be interesting woman. It was rare to find a woman who appreciated and was knowledgeable about the art of photography – and to him it was as much an art as it was a science. While they hadn’t talked much about other things, they seemed to have a lot in common, and she certainly had a different view of how she wanted to present herself to the world. In short, he knew he wanted to know more about this rather unusual woman. It was much too soon to speculate if he could get anywhere with her, and he suspected that she had some ideas that would be out of the ordinary compared to other women he had met. It would be fun to get to know her better, and he hoped he would have the chance to do it.

It took him most of an hour to get back to his pickup, but he was taking his time and being careful in the low-light conditions. It was near total darkness before he reached it, but fortunately packing up only consisted of picking up the bike and putting it in the truck bed. In only seconds he was on the road, satisfied with how the evening had gone. He hadn’t gotten much in the way of photos, but perhaps he had done better in other respects.

It still took him half an hour to get back to his apartment on the edge of the southern Michigan town of Wychbold. He’d lived there a little over two years, since he’d been hired at Mercer-Howe. The job really wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life but the money was adequate – there was no denying that. He might be there this time next year, or in twenty years, or he might not be. He knew he’d rather be doing artistic photography, but at the same time he knew that it was a good way to starve unless he kept it a hobby.

He pulled the pickup into the garage that came with the apartment. About all he had to do was lift the bike from the truck bed and hang it on the hooks on the wall. He was hungry now, so searched around the kitchen for possibilities; a can of stew sounded good, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to eat that much, so settled for a can of soup and a sandwich for dinner. He knew it wasn’t the best of all possible dinners, but at this hour it would serve.

Still, he was curious about the girl he’d met earlier. As soon as he was done eating, he went to his computer, turned it on, and once it was up and running launched a search for Chastity White swimsuit. It didn’t take the search engine any longer than it would take for him to hiccup to turn up the site, and he was on it in the click of the mouse.

There was a picture of Chelsea – well, in this case, Chastity – wearing what appeared to be a neoprene wetsuit. It was cut high on her legs, almost up to her waist, and zipped up the front to what appeared to be a snug collar. While he thought it looked very good on her – or she looked good in it, whatever the difference was – the photo was taken in what looked like the springtime against a backdrop of a road running alongside a small lake. The lake looked pretty cold to him, and he somehow doubted that her wetsuit would give much thermal protection, no matter how good it looked on her. There was a little bit of text that talked about the swimsuit, and some very oblique comments about the shoot. It couldn’t have come to a total of fifty words.

The main photo was cropped pretty tight, and obviously not at a high resolution. There were a couple of other versions of the same shot in smaller images on the page. In a column along the right, there were tiny versions of the same shots, cropped differently with Chelsea in the center of the photo, and on the left and right, all in the same pose. At the top of the column, there were the words, Buy wallpapers $1.99. Out of curiosity, Kyle clicked on one of them, and the photo came up in a relatively low resolution, 400×250 at a guess, too small to actually be used as a backdrop. There was a little bit of advertising verbiage, and a button marked, Buy Now.

Interesting, he thought as he backed away from the picture. I wonder how many of those she sells? Obviously a few. Selling very many of them would add up to a nice chunk of change after a while.

Looking to find out a little more, he went back to the main page, which had a couple of ads on it. That could add up to some money too, he thought. He clicked on gallery and a row of thumbnails of that wetsuit scene was in a row across the top of the page, with last Sunday’s date on it. Below that was a second row, with the previous Sunday identifying it; the photos were of Chelsea/Chastity standing alongside a road sign, wearing a one-piece blue and white print swimsuit, cut conservatively at the neckline but high on the sides.

He clicked on down

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