You don’t have to search far to find where the wild things are. At least, that’s what local wildlife photographer Mark Davis thinks.
Running through the end of June, Davis shows his wild side at The Riverdale Y’s Gallery 18 in “Wildlife: Near and Far.” The exhibit takes people around the globe through a showcase of photos of animals. But for those who get homesick easily, there also are pictures of animals from right here in Riverdale’s backyard.
“I wanted to show that even though we live in a metropolitan area, not famous for its wildlife, there is a lot of amazing wildlife around,” Davis said. “Some of the pictures I took are from Van Cortlandt Park, close to my apartment, where I can see egrets and herons. I’ve seen osprey there, and hawks — animals that people don’t realize are so local.”
This is Davis’ first gallery opening, and there’s a good reason for that. When he’s not capturing wildlife on film, he works as a lawyer. Itself a time-demanding job, Davis can’t spend time working on his photography that he’d like, so he uses his vacation time and the weekends.
Davis’ interest in photography started about six years ago after the birth of his first child. He was looking for a simple camera online to take pictures of his kid, but message boards and various websites opened up a whole new world for him.
“There were lots of family pictures on the message boards, but a lot of people would post amazing photos of flowers, insects, and occasionally, birds,” Davis said. “I never really thought I’d be interested in doing what I’m doing now, but I was just fascinated by the beauty of these pictures, the fact that you were able to see amazing detail in animals that you see every day, like sparrows, or eagles.”
This sparked his interest in wildlife photography. Once he became confident in his technique, Davis began posting his photos on Facebook, eliciting a big reaction amongst his friends.
“It seemed to strike a chord with people who weren’t bird enthusiasts,” he said.
So far, Davis’ passion has taken him as far as South Africa, making that trip a year ago with a few of his community friends.
“We booked a tour guide on TripAdvisor.com, with no recommendations from anyone we knew,” Davis said. “It turned out to be amazing — we had incredible tour guides who drove us around in a specially equipped safari. The guides were photographers themselves, so they understood the photo technique and lighting. We appreciated the fact that we were able to take such an incredible trip.”
Some of that trip’s photos are featured in the exhibit such as “Elephant Sunrise,” taken in the country’s Kruger National Park.
Gallery 18 showcases 27 of Davis’ photos, balancing a mix between local and exotic wildlife.
“If I could have an impact on the community,” Davis said, “it would be to give people a reason to get out more in nature and appreciate the outdoors.”