Journalist • Photographer

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

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An Uptown View

I live high above northern Manhattan, where we get to see a lot of the city and some of the Palisades and Englewood Cliffs area of New Jersey. This is the view from our terrace.

Looking south into the heart of Manhattan. © Bobby Magill

The George Washington Bridge on the right takes I-95 from New Jersey into Manhattan and toward New England. © Bobby Magill

Sunset over New Jersey. © Bobby Magill

Columbia University's football stadium lit up at dusk. © Bobby Magill

Manhattan before dark on a hazy evening. The Citicorp, Chrysler, 432 Park, Met Life, Empire State, Bank of America and 1 World Trade Center buildings are all visible over the Harlem River and Washington Heights. © Bobby Magill. 

Shadows and Light at Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado is a photographer's dream in one of the West's most surreal landscapes. I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning at the dunes, where the best light occurs at sunset and within about 30 minutes after the sun peeks above the Sangre de Cristo Mountains not long after sunrise. My best images have been added to my National Park Series on my Restless West Photography website.

Images of the Day: Wind Cave National Park

The campground at Wind Cave National Park, which is just as much about wildlife-rich rolling mixed-grass prairie as it is about the cave itself, hasn't filled up in 30 years. It's a special place at the foot of the Black Hills in South Dakota, certainly one of the most peaceful places I've been. See my entire photo album from Wind Cave and the rest of our Black Hills trip here.

Shot of the Day: North St. Vrain Creek

There's a certain peacefulness in one of the most popular corners of Rocky Mountain National Park when all the peak baggers aren't around. I spent about an hour solo hiking up the Longs Peak/Chasm Lake trail today with hardly anyone else around to break the silence. Or the monotony. The goal was turn around at timberline because I really just wanted to see how high the snow line is right now in this abysmal snowpack year. But the hike to timberline on the Longs Peak trail is a relentless trudge through a monotonous lodgepole pine forest miraculously disturbed only minimally by bark beetles. After just under a mile and a half, I got bored, turned around and decided to head down to Rocky's Wild Basin area for some midday river photography on St. Vrain Creek.

The National Park Service still has the last mile or two of the gravel Wild Basin road closed for the winter. The parking area behind the seasonal closure gate was completely packed, suggesting big crowds and gaggles of screaming kids. But I only saw four people over the hour or so I was hiking in the area, proving once again that solitude and silence can be abundant even in the busiest and most famous national parks in the country.

Mapping all the "Colorful Colorado" signs

If you're curious about all the gateways into Colorado, Dale Sanderson over at emailed me today to let me know he has mapped all the "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" signs in the state, linking each point on the map to my project, "Welcome to Colorful Colorado: 41 Views from the Border."

Check it out here.

Dale's site along with Matthew Salek's Colorado Highways site are both excellent introductions to the highways and history of Colorado and Centennial State trivia. Be sure to check them both out.

Shot of the Day: Leaving Colorful Colorado

This sign is unique in Colorado. Only Interstate 70 features signs that say "Leaving Colorful Colorado" when you're heading out of the state. There are no such signs on I-25, I-76 or any other highway leading out of Colorado.

As you'll see if you check out my "Colorful Colorado" series, the sign on the Kansas border appears to be a bit newer than this one on the Utah line even though they are both credited to the "Department of Highways." This one looks like it has been standing on the Utah border since CDOT was called the Colorado Department of Highways sometime long ago.


Capitol Reef National Park: The Apotheosis of Canyon Country

The Colorado Plateau — redrock canyon country, that is — is replete with national parks and monuments: Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Cedar Breaks, Chaco Culture, Arches, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge, Glen Canyon, and many more. Most are destinations unto themselves. But my experience is a bit different with Capitol Reef. Back in 2006, when a backpack into Dark Canyon looked like it would be rained out (don't get stuck in the rain at the Sundance Trailhead with a Toyota Corolla), my friends and I spent a night backpacking in Capitol Reef. In 2010, when the heat at the place we were camping beneath the Henry Mountains climbed to 103 degrees, Jacob and I moved to Capitol Reef where things were only slightly cooler. Last month, when my friends and I were annoyed that our chosen camping spots were either packed with people, full of blowing dust or were frenetic with screaming kids, we spent the next two days in Capitol Reef, the alternative we head to when our original plans fall through.

But Capitol Reef deserves more than that. One of the lesser visited national parks in Utah, it has all the accommodations people unprepared for backcountry travel need: easy trails, green grass, locally-made ice cream and root beer and other stuff tourists like, except that nearly the entire park, much to its credit, is out of Facebook and cell phone range. Most of Capitol Reef is far out of reach of casual tourists, and that's why the park rocks. "The Land of Tilted Rocks" is a slanted redrock badland riddled with slots and grottoes, arches and narrows, and, of course, Cathedral Vallley, a remote icon of the park I have yet to visit. It's a 100 mile-long spear-shaped park that encapsulates all the greatest things about canyon country. One of my favorite protected places in Utah, Capitol Reef is unique among the national parks: In the summer, visitors can pick fresh fruit from the peach, apricot, cherry, pear and apple trees planted by the Mormon settlers more than a century ago.



Image of the Day: Stars Above Cohab Canyon

I'm still working out my technique on by-the-seat-of-the-pants astrophotography, as seen here from my attempt last week at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. My friends and I were camped at the Capitol Reef campground, which sits below the mouth of Cohab Canyon. Capitol Reef has one of the darkest night skies in southern Utah, and we had a new moon, which is the perfect combination for stargazing. The cliffs are lit only by the ambient light in the campground. This is what it looks like before the sun goes down:

I set up my tripod behind the picnic table, aimed above the park's scenic drive, which was just below the frame and over the fence from the campsite, and opened the shutter for 25 minutes, hoping the occasional breeze wasn't enough to blur the image. One problem with the camera I used here is that it takes longer to transfer data and write the image to the CF card than it does to take the image. So, a 25 minute shot becomes a 50 minute shot. I'm using a high-speed 16 GB card in my Canon 50D, and I'm a bit perplexed as to why the process takes so frustratingly long. Oftentimes, I'll shoot an image, and by the time the camera is done transferring the data, I'm either too tired or too frozen to spend another hour taking a single image.

On this trip, a friend of mine brought along an ancient Canon Rebel XT that he was borrowing from a friend. The camera used a cheap CF card, and when I took an image with a 30 minute exposure, I was shocked that the data transfer process was instantaneous despite the large RAW file size.

The next night, I decided to do an hour-long exposure on my camera and then go to bed after I closed the shutter so it could write to the card while I was sleeping. This is what I got:

It's a little blurrier, probably thanks to my low-end-ish Manfrotto tripod and a bit of a breeze. Look closely, though, and you'll see the image is full of dead pixels and grain despite shooting at the same ISO as the top image:

Incidentally, I discovered that nearly every image I took on this trip was marred by several "stuck" pixels, an errant bright red, white, green or black pixel. I think I found a fix for that, and I'm hoping I solved the above problem, too.

I also brought along my 35mm film camera on the trip, too, and the same evening I shot a similar night sky image using Fuji Provia 400X slide film. It'll probably take me a year to go through the roll, so we'll see how this shot turns out then.