They say that good things come to those who wait – and that's especially true with nature photography.
"My friends tell me I have an incredible amount of patience. I think that's the most important part, other than how to put things together in composition," said photographer Charles Green, who took up the camera in 1996, after retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard. "Good photography is all about the effective use and management of light. The elements are the composition and using the right technique for exposure, and f-stop, and things like that."
Green's photos have been exhibited at the Bloomfield Township Public Library, and have been shown at The Community House, Beaumont Hospital and can be found in a number of private homes in the Birmingham-Bloomfield area.
Specializing in nature photography, patience is a key when waiting for lighting, animals and other parts of the picture to align just right. Likewise, staging a shot in a precarious spot with limited light can be both tedious and dangerous.
"I found my camera took me places," he said. "I've been in the mountains in Wyoming, the swamps in Florida, and I've blown out tendons in my right knee in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. I had to use my tripod as a crutch."
The accident happened while Green was shooting the moon under a stone arch as the sun was rising. Despite the injury, he continued to shoot for three more days, sliding on the ground or using his tripod as a crutch to get in and out of where he wanted to shoot.
"I wasn't going to sit around for three days and feel sorry for myself, and go without getting images I knew I wanted," he said.
In Yellowstone National Park, Green spent three hours photographing a wolf lioness before getting the shot that matched the one in his mind's eye.
"That's part of the creative process," he said. "If you throw enough spaghetti against the wall, something is going to stick."
Outside of shooting photos, Green competes in precision rifle shooting at the national level. The sport requires shooters to try to get five rounds in the same hole from 100 yards, in some cases landing shots less than a half-tenth of an inch away from each other.
As for photography, Green picked it up after retiring from the Coast Guard, which he served in from 1964 to 1996, retiring as a full commander. It was after that he saw a listing at The Birmingham Community House in Birmingham for a photo class with professional photographer Monte Nagler.
"He was an excellent teacher, and he kind of inspired me," he said.
After that, Green interned with another professional photographer who taught him more about lighting and how best to control it. Years later, Green helped form and coach a photography club with Birmingham Next.
While he enjoys traveling to far away places to photograph nature, he said there are plenty of places to take stunning photographs in the area.
"One place I've enjoyed was at the Cranbrook Gardens. A lot of people don't know they have a Japanese Garden in the corner with a bright red bridge that goes over the pond with a waterfall," he said. "I thought it would be spectacular in the snow, and that red bridge really popped against the snow... You can't go to Cranbrook and not see wonderful things."
Photo: Laurie Tennent