Wild Things

Wolves

Wolves at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey

Chris Crocco is a partner in The Beacon Daily, which serves breakfast and sandwiches all day. He is also a wildlife and wilderness photographer, and his work is displayed throughout the Teller Avenue restaurant.

Crocco’s work will be on display at The Current office at 142 Main St. in Cold Spring, beginning with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 10) during Cold Spring Aglow.

chris crocco

Chris Crocco

He runs The Beacon Daily with his brother, Andrew, and Bill Santoro. “We have a great fried-chicken sandwich,” Chris says. “We come in when it’s snowing, run beer specials on bad weather days, do a lot of catering, have a small crew — there are eight of us here — and have a lot of regulars.”

Crocco, who grew up in Hopewell Junction, says his interest in photography came out of a former life, when he traveled frequently while developing restaurant and brand concepts at airports. “The first year, I took 40 work trips. I got into photography as a way to remember my travels.”

Once he began shooting wildlife and landscapes, “I learned about the blue hour [the hour before sunrise and after sunset], sunrise, sunset, golden light, about hiking wilderness in the dark. Landscape photography is always a challenge, because it’s all about dramatic lighting. With landscapes, I never want them to be just a reproduction of a place. It’s a representation of what I see, hearing the sounds, smelling the flora, experiencing it fully. In getting the shot and processing it afterward, I try to put in all that emotion from when I was there.

“With wildlife, it’s a lot of research and planning. There’s the saying, ‘The best camera to use is the one you have.’ You have to be in a location near their habitat, then they have to be active, then it’s split-second. With a lot of my shots, I’ve been hiding out for a while.

Short-eared owl

A short-eared owl in the Shawangunk grasslands

“You don’t want to disturb or disrupt any animal in their natural habitat,” he says. “I shoot with lenses that let me stay 50 or 60 yards away. They are wild animals and they’re meant to be kept wild.”

Eagles and other raptors are Crocco’s favorite subjects. “I’m tracking about 13 or 14 juvenile eagles. They’re massive and so much fun to watch hunt,” he says. “Eagles get into it with seagulls a lot.”

He also enjoys photographing short-eared owls at Wallkill and the Shawangunk grasslands, “and an amazing group of peregrine falcons along the New York/New Jersey border. I love watching them teach their young how to fly.”

He’d like to have more shots in his portfolio of bears, red foxes, wolves and “puffins with sardines in their mouths — that’s a bucket list item.” He loves to visit the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and hopes to take his camera to Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Alaska, where “4,000 eagles descend to feed and mate.”

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