February 14, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

Bird watching may not be the activity people in Idaho choose first. Perhaps that’s because they don’t think there are many birds to look at. Darren Clark, an art faculty member at BYU-Idaho and professional photographer, disagrees.

His exhibit, opening Thursday night in the Jacob Spori Art Gallery, contains pictures of birds from their normal homes here in Idaho and around the U.S. The exhibit is called Habitat and Refuge.

“Well Habitat and Refuge, there’s probably two meanings I supposed,” he said. “The literal meaning, the photographs are landscapes that are utilized by birds and they are also places that are well known in the bird watching community … this exhibit kind of combines those two passions of bird watching and landscape photography. And also, these places are personally a refuge for myself.”

When Clark was young, he didn’t think there was much to hold his interest with regards to birds in Idaho. While attending Ricks College he took a theoretical biology class, “The big push in that class was birds, and it kind of opened my eyes,” Clark said.

He thought all of the birds to watch were in other places like Africa or Florida. He has since personally identified 380 plus species in Idaho. For Clark, bird watching is an escape or a refuge, just as his exhibit indicates.

With all the different kinds of birds he has photographed you would think he would have a favorite, but he doesn’t. He is actually fond of the everyday birds that others perhaps don’t appreciate, like pigeons and starlings.

His exhibit isn’t all about birds though. Most of the exhibit includes stunning landscapes he captured in what he calls the perfect light. He said most of the photos were taken during the early morning hours or the late evening, during sunrise and sunset.

When Clark goes to these landscapes to take pictures he usually has a lot of down time between dawn and dusk. During that time he scouts out other areas that would make breathtaking pictures. He will also take that time to find some birds to do photoshoots with.

The photos in the exhibit come from all over the U.S. Some are from Washington, San Diego, the Rio Grande Valley, Maine, Florida and of course, Idaho. He said he has photographed mostly on the edges of the country with a few in-between.

Some of Clark’s shots are so picturesque, but he says it’s nothing special.

“What you do is you get really, really lucky,” Clark explained. “If you photograph for a long time you don’t think about how you do this you just react and do it … you’ll never get lucky if you’re not out there looking.”

Currently, he uses a Canon full frame SLR, 5D, Mark 3 and a Mark 4. He also uses a tilt-shift lens in order to capture the panorama shots with high resolution.

“I hope [when people come to the exhibit] they realize that this is a great place, this planet we live on,” Clark said. “That there are remarkable things to see. I think just realizing that anything your passionate about is worth paying attention to. There are stories to be told.”

A reception will be held Feb. 14 at the Jacob Spori Art Gallery from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.