BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a journalist and photographer based in Port Jervis, NY and Alexandria, Va.

Filtering by Tag: Colorado Plateau

Anatomy of an Image: Delicate Reflection

Delicate Arch is Utah's most iconic natural landform and, almost without a doubt, its most photographed. I have a gazillion Delicate Arch images stashed away, most of them similar to what you'll see in countless other photo galleries and tourist brochures. I've visited Arches National Park more than 50 times, and it's one of my favorite places in the world.

I took a week-long photographic expedition to Utah and western Colorado in March 2010, and I thought I'd really timed the trip badly because most of eastern Utah canyon country was under two feet of snow. But Delicate Arch wasn't buried under snow. The slickrock around it was, however, sopping wet with meltwater, and that allowed me to luck into the perfect photography scenario for Delicate Arch.

I've been trying for years to capture Delicate in the perfect reflection. It worked marginally well another time back in 2006 after a heavy October rain, but the potholes weren't quite as full then as they were last year. When I arrived at the bowl beneath the arch, this is essentially what the scene looked like:

A mud pit. So I started looking around for the perfect pothole...

Not quite.

I was walking all over the place (careful not to track through the mud as other people had) looking for the right puddle and the correct angle. And the damn wind just kept blowing. But just as I was about ready to call it a day (the way it usually works), I found it:

That still wasn't quite right, but a little more experimenting with camera positioning produced the final image, which was rotated 180 degrees to appear upright.

This also begs the question: How many times can you photograph an arch? I probably won't spend much time at Delicate the next time I visit Arches, but it's been fun to photograph over the years:

Sacrilege and Intrigue at Cold Shivers Point

To say this aloud is to commit an act of sacrilege, at least in the eyes of those who discourage law-breaking in national parks: I find graffiti fascinating, particularly the inscriptions at Cold Shivers Point in Colorado National Monument.

I know from my previous reporting about the monument, there's a good chance that if the law may be broken (drugs, sex, graffiti, etc.) at the monument, there's more than a slight chance it happened at Cold Shivers Point. Why? Cold Shivers Point looks over a precipitous canyon 2,000 feet above and only a few miles away from downtown Grand Junction, where it's easy access for, err, a late night rendezvous with a fantastic view. Early one morning a few years ago, some friends of mine and I found a suicide victim at Cold Shivers Point. On a morning bike ride (and 2,000 vertical-foot climb) to the high point of Rim Rock Drive, we'd stopped at Cold Shivers to catch our breath. We felt a cold shiver, indeed.

If only the rocks at Cold Shivers Point could talk. They'd have some titillating and tragic stories to tell.

And they do: Graffiti is scrawled across the rocks, first loves and evidence of passings-by literally etched into stone. Every one of those people committed an ugly crime serving only to deface the wonders of the wilderness, create an eyesore out of a magnificent natural wonder and provide curious visitors like me with at least an hour of entertainment searching for stories carved into rock.

Criminal? Yes. Endlessly interesting? Of course.