Hidden beauty of nature


I probably "inherited" my interest, admiration and love for nature from my father, who, in addition to his gardening work, was mainly interested in the forest and hunting. From an early age, I walked through the woods and noticed trees, stumps, moss, lichens, stones and even the smallest plants. In the 2nd grade, for Christmas, I received a beautiful book about nature "Lesní noviny" by the author V.Bianki, with nice pictures and engaging stories about animals, plants and people living in nature. ....

My main goal of nature photography is to show not only the monumental beauty of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, ponds, but also mysterious forest nooks and hidden beauty of things and details that we often do not even realize and walk around them unnoticed.
That even in seemingly ordinary and mundane things, such as a dewdrop, a snowflake, a fallen leaf, hoarfrost in the grass ..., there is a lot of impressive beauty.
" Samples of some photographs from nature "

My photographic beginnings
If I omit small experiments with a "pinhole chamber"
(a cardboard box with a small hole that projects a reduced inverted image on the back wall) , my first children's "photo camera" was Pioneer , who I took with my brother (who took pictures only rarely , sometimes a few moments of friends) received as a Christmas present around 1959 (at that time it cost a little over 50 CZK). It was a simple bakelite device with a retractable lens (focal length f 70mm and aperture 1: 5.6) and a lens viewfinder. Focused by rotating the lens, which had a helix and drawn marks on the face (portrait) , figures (group photography) and landscapes(focus to "infinity") . Exposure times were "M" - snapshot (1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 sec) and "T" (permanent shutter release while holding the shutter button) .
    Soon after, we got two more simple cameras Efekta and Druex
(all these simple cameras were manufactured by DRUOPTA) :
Efekta was also a simple bakelite camera with a simple frame viewfinder, with a f 70mm lens, apertures 8, 11, 16, 22, without focusing - " fix focus " from about 1m to infinity. Shutter speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 sec. and "B"
(permanent shutter release while the shutter-release button is held) .
Druexit had a slightly deeper bakelite box, also with a frame viewfinder, with a lens of 75 mm aperture 1: 6.3; marked aperture scale 6,3, 8, 11, 16, 22. Shutter speeds "B"
(permanent shutter release) , 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 sec.
    All these cameras were photographed on a negative roll film of type 120, width 61 mm and length 81 cm, on which 12 images of 6
x 6 cm format were taken (some types, such as Pioneer, had the option of inserting a frame for taking 18 images of format 4, 5 x 6 cm) . The roll film, wound on a spool, had a covering paper strip,black on the inside and red on the outside, with printed frame numbers; beneath it was his own film. This light-tight cover paper (which is about 30 cm longer than the film at each end) allows you to load and change the film with a spool in daylight. When shooting, the film in the camera was shifted by turning the dial up or on the side of the camera, watching the frame numbers printed on the paper cover strip of the film in the transparent red window on the back. The exposed film with the cover paper strip is rewound on the second spool during shooting, which is then removed from the camera. The empty spool from the original film is moved to the other side and then another film is wound on it.
    In a small pantry, which had only one small window that could be easily darkened, we set up an improvised "photo chamber", lit by a dim bulb covered with two or three layers of red cellophane
(later a lamp called " aladin " with plug-in filters of various colors) . There we developed roll films, from the beginning just by stretching a bowl filled with a developer and then a stabilizer (in complete darkness) , later in a "tank" where the film was spirally wound. The developing "tank" ( developer ) is a black bakelite cylindrical container with a lid, through the opening of which passes the spool shaft with spiral grooves, on which the exposed film is spirally wound in a spiral by gradual insertion.(in the picture on the right there is a "tank" for a roll film - at the bottom and for a cinema film - at the top; winding took a little practice ...) . Pour about 1/2 liter of developer there, the spool rotates for even development and in about 7-10 minutes. the photochemical induction reaction is complete. After rinsing with water (weakly acidified - interrupting solution) , a stabilizer is poured into the tank, which dissolves the untreated silver bromide, followed by a thorough washing with water (approx. 30 min.) And the film can be hung to dry.
Photochemical reactions 
Classic black-and-white photographic films
(or formerly photographic plates) have a thin emulsion of silver halides applied, now it is almost exclusively silver bromide bound in gelatin. When exposed to light, a photochemical reaction occurs , in which part of the silver atoms is released from the bond in the halide - a negative latent image is formed (hidden, yet invisible) , formed only by sparsely dispersed silver atoms.
   The basic process of "visibility" of the latent image in the photochamber is the development of an exposed film, in which colorless silver bromide is reduced to visible black silver particles (it is described in more detail in §2.2 "
Detection of spectrometry "....). The developer is an aqueous solution of developing agents, mostly methanol, hydroquinone, or phenidone, with alkaline reagents of carbonate or sodium or potassium hydroxide. There is a gradual conversion of illuminated silver bromide to metallic silver. of the unexposed areas of the film are then dissolved in the fixer , which is usually a solution of sodium thiosulphate.
   Analogously was processed positive image after exposure to photographic paper. Development and stabilization are performed in three flat photographic dishes with a level of about 3 cm of developer, interrupting bath and stabilizer. Because most photo papers are not sensitive to red light, this positive process can be performed and visually observed in low red light.
   The color photography process is briefly written below in the "
Color Photography " section.
    Initially, we only took photos on photo paper with a 1: 1 contact using a " copier " of our own production. It was a cardboard box with a light bulb, which illuminated the developed film (negative) with contacted photo paper. They were created after developing a small photo of size 6 x6 cm. The expositions were initially timed only by estimation, later we had simple exposition hours. And then we bought a magnifying device ( Opemus 2a , see below) for creating larger photos and also a photo polisher.
    Even with these simple means, we managed to take a number of quite decent photographs, for example:
................ pictures 6x6 ......
    Another, already somewhat more perfect camera was Ljubitěl
(Russian. Amateur ) , which was a so-called two- lens reflex camera with the possibility of precise targeted focusing. He had two lenses : a photographic lensis a triplet f 75 mm, luminosity 1: 4.5. Exposure times "B", 1 / 15s., 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 and 1/250 sec. Above it, a viewfinder focusing lens f 60 mm with a larger aperture of 2.8 was placed , which projected the image onto the viewfinder screen *) by reflection through an inclined mirror. Both lenses, provided with an extendable thread, were mechanically coupled via gears on the circumference - so when rotated, they extended and retracted simultaneously, thus performing focusing. The correct sharpness was monitored on a viewfinder screen with a magnifying glass. It was photographed on a 6 x 6 cm
roll film .
*) At Ljubitelele, the viewfinder consisted of a large connecting lens 4 x 4 cm, provided in the middle with a circular mat with a diameter of about 1 cm. She focused on it through a magnifying glass. This viewfinder solution provided a brilliant image even in poor lighting conditions, only focusing had to be done carefully on a small circular screen in the middle.  
I used Ljubitel and Flexaret until the end of my high school studies.

More serious photographic work with better technology
None of the above cameras
(even in their much more perfect variants - such as Lieca, Rolleiflex, etc.) were suitable for the photographic genre I wanted to focus on the most - displaying details of natural objects from various perspectives, macro photography . Immediately after graduating from high school and joining the Charles University IFF, I therefore bought a single-lens reflex camera with interchangeable lenses, at that time the Praktica FX3 type . I chose this type mainly because it had an interchangeable viewfinder. Especially the shaft with a matte and a magnifying glass, which monitored the cutout and sharpness from above , which is advantageous for displaying details even close to the ground.(eg small flowers) and for macro photography. Furthermore, a viewfinder with a prismatic prism could be used for normal attachment to the eye (in the picture at the bottom center) . The lenses are interchangeable, with different focal lengths and apertures. The basic lens has a focal length of mostly 50 mm and an aperture of about 1:2 - 2.8.  
    This single-lens reflex camera was photographed on a 35 mm wide "cinema-film " with perforated edges for precise film movement by means of a gear drive. When shooting, the film is wound in a light-tight cassette
(pictured right) in a length of about 170 cm, which allows you to take min. 32 frames of 24 x 36 mm size. When using fine-grained film (with careful development in a "fine-grained" developer) high-quality photographs of 30 x 40 cm and larger. When shooting, the film is wound in a light-tight cassette can be taken from them . I often bought films in "length" about 30m and in the darkroom I wound them and cut them into cassettes.  
     Gradually, I bought a number of accessory components : wide-angle lenses, telephoto lenses, intermediate rings and a "bellows" elevator for macro photography, a set of filters
(incl. Polarizing) , tripods, mounts, etc. I made a metal case with compartments for these components, which were lined with a soft foam layer for better impact protection (except for the tripod compartment). The case could be hermetically sealed, the rubber seal also ensured water resistance.
    However, I took this suitcase
(which weighed about 17 kg in the complete set) only with me exceptionally, when I was planning more complex compositions. Mostly I went out into nature only "lightly" with two hanging cameras with black and white and color film, exposure meter, in my pocket, in addition to a few film cassettes, I had a wide-angle lens and intermediate rings for macro photography. That was usually enough ...
I later photographed with the EXAKTA RTL1000 and PENTACON six TL devices at the NM workplace, but rarely, I did not have as extensive accessories for them as at the Praktica
    . Due to the photographic genre, which I mainly focused on, I did not need to replace the Praktica FX3 type with newer types with built-in automatic exposure and other improvements, which are advantageous, for example, for reportage photography.
Color photography - negative and inverse 
The basic black and white photochemical process was briefly discussed above in the section "
Photochemical reactions ". Color photographic film has three layers of photographic emulsion applied, which are sensitive to different colors of light. These layers contain various filters and masks to achieve separate color sensitivity. Each of these layers, in addition to the crystals of silver bromide, contains special organic substances which, when photochemically reacted and subsequently developed in a color-forming developer, produce different organic colors. Color-forming components (sometimes called couplers )
in the emulsion layers there are originally colorless organic compounds, containing mostly methylene groups, from which azomethine and indoline dyes (yellow, purple and cyan colors) are formed .
   When exposed in the camera, a latent monochrome image is created in each of these three layers. When developed in a color-forming developer, images are then formed in metallic silver
(as in black-and-white photography) , but at the same time the developer reacts with the color-forming organic components contained in the individual emulsion layers to form the blue, red and yellow color components of the image. Metallic silver is then removed by bleaching and stabilization, so that only a clear color image remains on the film.
   Color photography is more difficult to process in a photo camera than black and white. The basic classic method consists in shooting on color negative film , which is then developed in a developing tank in a special " color-forming " developer . This developer
(in addition to methanol, hydroquinone for black and white photography) also contains special organic compounds, especially para-phenylenediamine , which react with the color-forming components contained in the individual layers of the color film to form dyes that form a color image.
   Then the bleaching and fixing is applied to the film a bath that dissolves all unlit silver bromide as well as induced black silver. This creates a color negative image , in complementary colors. This is then projected with a magnifying device onto colored photographic paper , on which, after development in the color-developing developer, stabilization and bleaching, the resulting positive color image is formed . This process cannot be performed in red light, as color photo paper is, of course, sensitive to red light. It must be performed in the dark or in low light with an "aladin" with a special dark green filter.
   In principle, each negative film can be developed "positively" to directly obtain a density- and color-accurate image - a slide, which is observed in transmitted light or is magnified on a screen using a slide projector. This so-called inverse development for the formation of slides consists of several steps :
- The first development of the exposed film in a "black and white" developer, in which a negative image formed by grains of metallic silver is created in all layers . The film is rinsed with water.
- A second exposure of the film to white light, in which any remaining silver bromide (not developed in the first step) is exposed to be capable of a second development. A latent positive image emerges. Instead of exposure to light, the so-called inverse bath can also be used, in which silver atoms are chemically released from the halide, serving as nuclei for induction; but I did not use this method.
The second development in the color- developing developer, in which the remaining illuminated silver bromide is developed. This creates a positive silver and positive color image (if we looked at the film at this stage, it would be completely black, because everything silver contained in the emulsion is evoked) .
- Bleaching of the induced black silver in a potassium ferric acid solution, in which the metallic silver is converted to silver ferric ferrite, while the color positive image does not change. - Stabilization in which the silver compound formed by bleaching dissolves in a stabilizer (based on sodium thiosulphate). Only the dyes formed during the second development remain in the film - these form the resulting positive image . Finally, a thorough washing of the film and, if necessary, stabilization of dyes (in formaldehyde solution) .
   For photographic processing (black and white and color, negative and inverse), kits were later supplied that greatly simplified the work. However, I prepared all the solutions myself from basic chemicals ...
   Most of the samples of color photographs listed below "
Samples of some photographs from nature " were created by this inverse process.

These descriptions of procedures and own experiences with film photography can now be a kind of reminiscence :
- haw complicated and laborious it was to photograph in the past -

Digital photography
The first digital camera I started taking pictures with was the Nikon Coolpix 990. From the point of view of nature photography, it had a similar advantage as Praktica FX3
(and even more flexible) : independent rotation of the lens and electronic display, which allows observing - enlarging and reducing, focusing, composing - the photographed subject from above (pictured right) . In addition, Coolpix also has a lens viewfinder. The advantage of this solution was mentioned above in the passage on Praktica FX3 . 
    The basic lens has f 8-24 mm
(3x optical zoom) and an aperture of 1:2.8 - 4. The CCD image sensor has 3.34 megapixels. Later I used newer cameras with a much larger number of pixels (>10MP) and zoom range, but I still liked the photos with Coolpix the most ...

Technically perfect digital photography <- versus -> magical chemical photography ..? ..
Digital photography is, of course, a completely revolutionary advance, allowing you to easily do technically perfect work with possibilities we never dreamed of before ..! .. However, when you nostalgically we remember, the work in the darkroom, illuminated only by the faint red afterglow, had its magical charm: watching the image gradually develop, barely noticeable at first, then accentuating, and pulling it out of the developer at the right moment and stabilizing it. Possibly. during the exposure we somewhat overshadow some overexposed areas. It was not just a technique, but there was a bit of art in it ..! ..

Photo-inflation - or - why did I stop taking pictures?
At the end of the 1990s, there was a completely exaggerated - " inflationary " - increase in photography (especially in the wake of the advent of digital technology) . People began to take pictures of food on a plate in a restaurant, bringing ticks from the holiday without thinking "clicked" photos, often from a mobile phone, which is not even enough to view (let alone process!) , They only take up many gigabits on the computer. It just started to be " re-photographed " ..! .. And what is too much is too much! I no longer enjoyed taking photos that interested almost no one - the quiet beauty of nature in the communion of society was no longer "attractive" ...

Samples of some photos from nature
During my photographic wanderings through nature, I took more than 5,000 pictures on black and white and about 2,000 on color film in about 30 years. Due to the limited capacity of computer memory and also the desirable brevity that I prefer, I will present only examples from a very small part of this photographic material, according to my subjective choice - especially according to which places and images I have a more personal relationship
(perhaps it will address some other interested parties about nature ..? ..) :

Texts for pictures Image thumbnails
( click to enlarge; back < - to go back) 
Winter - snowy hunting lodge in the forest Bor.
Paseka and the hunting lodge above Křemenec was a nice place in the Konické forests, near "Hubert". From this hunting lodge there was a good view of the surrounding forests. Nice young pines, spruces and firs grew on the slope around the sitting area, and a small forest stream flowed down below. In the sunny summer there was the smell of resin and forest herbs, in the autumn needles and fallen leaves, in the winter there used to be a lot of snow .....
Winter - a
feeder for forest animals under a tall fir tree on an elevated spot on a pasture above Jílovec.
Winter - a
peaceful snowstorm in the forest above Jílovec and a snowdrift in the garden.
Winter -
white needles of hoarfrost on long green needles of pine on the edge of the forest.
Winter -
magnificent ice crystals grew
on a frozen pond on a frosty night .
Winter - icing around frozen water.
In winter, a beautiful icing of ice crystals sometimes forms on each twig and stalk around the frozen water during the frost.
This fleeting beauty in the sun soon melts, seldom, in freezing weather, lasts for several days.
Winter - hoarfrost on grass stalks.
Hubert was approached from Konice by a picturesque path on the edge of the forest and fields near Zavadilka. In winter there used to be a lot of snow, trees, shrubs and grasses were covered with beautiful hoarfrost and icicles.
Winter - a
small stream under the forest weaves between the snow.
It's not frozen yet ...
Winter -
frost painted magical ornaments on the windows and ice on the water, often with frozen bubbles
(especially at the inflow of water into the pond) .
Autumn -
dew and later hoarfrost on fallen leaves.
Podrim -
in the freezing morning the meadows turned white, each leaf of grass is decorated with hoarfrost of ice crystals. It shines beautifully in the sun, which dissolves the hoarfrost until noon.
Winter -
frost weaved a beautiful hoarfrost on all the remains of plants protruding from the snow.
Even on the orange fruit of the cinchona under the grove by the garden.
Winter, early spring - a forest stream and a waterfall above Křemenec is a very remote and unknown place. A small stream, springing below Štarnov, flows through the dense forest of Bor, gradually picks up water and creates several nice small waterfalls in a deep valley. In winter it is frozen, in early spring it wakes up and starts to growl again.

Spring -
jiva cats and hazel catkins woke up.
In a large drop of dew under a cat, a reduced inverted image of the opposite forest trees is displayed.
Spring -
larch and jiva bloomed.
Summer - the
morning dew is decorated with glittering droplets of grass blades, butterbur leaves and cobwebs on the edge of the forest.
Summer - memorial tree.
Above Střelnice and Jílovec, towards Zavadilka, on the edge of the Bor forest, grows a huge old beech , under which there is a nice hunting painting called " Hubert " - the patron saint of hunters, standing in reverence in front of the sacred deer, on a stand in a glazed wooden box . Under the locker is a memorial plaque to the hunters murdered during the German fascist occupation in 1939-45.
Early spring -
Bor forest and dark forest road above Křemenec, with the last remnants of snow.
Autumn - the
last remnants of fruit (plums, apples) on fallen trees.
Autumn -
early fog and gilding autumn evening in the Bor forest.
........ More photos, texts will be added and the order and arrangement will be adjusted .........

Black-and-white photographs were mostly taken on 25 ASA (15 DIN) film, color images were mostly on 125 ASA (22 DIN) inverse films, all with their own development and further processing in a photo chamber. The vast majority of images were taken quite a long time ago (1968-80), when there was no digital photography. Photos and slides had to be scanned for digitization, which could lead to some reduction in quality - the maximum resolution and full brightness and contrast scale cannot be used for brilliant images. I apologize for these technical shortcomings; I would like to reflect on the rather natural-aesthetic side ...

Poetry of rural life
Interesting places and people
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Vojtech Ullmann