ETH Zurich Analog and Digital on the Glacier with ALPA
ALPA is one of the only manufacturers in the world whose cameras can be used both digitally and analogously. Impressions from the Morteratsch Glacier.
June 27, 2017
A View Behind the Scences
When manufacturers like Kodak bring a new film to the market, many photographers find themselves asking the question: analog or digital? We at ALPA answer this question with a counter-question: What speaks against using them both simultaneously? ALPA cameras, sure don't... They form an interface between analog and digital photography. Thanks to the modular design, the ALPA system allows the photographer to decide on a case-by-case basis on which technology is used.
The duality of an ALPA corresponds, among other things, to a trend that we see within the filming process: quite a few professional photographers use digital at work and rely on analog cameras for their spare time.
Neither retro nor vintage
Although manufacturers are launching new products, the "film movement" in photography is mainly focused on used cameras and accessories. However, the terms retro and vintage clearly distinguish ALPA. Our customers do not have to resort to equipment that is decades old to photograph using film. We have been offering our photographers the opportunity to do so since the ALPA brand's revitalization 20 years ago.
As usual with ALPA, we also use our experience to develop our products further. In doing so, we help to ensure that photography on film is not a pure lifestyle trend but remains future-proof. The fact that ALPA photographers can also digitize the negatives with their camera and the coinciding back piece using only a light table is one of the characteristics that distinguishes ALPA from other providers. It's a lot quicker than scanning, and thanks to the high-resolution digital backs, there is no loss of quality compared to a negative scanner.
ETH relies on film
A further development from which we delineate is the trend towards cameras that make snapshots possible: in this respect, ALPA is located at the other end of the scale. Analog photography, in particular, transports exact values such as authenticity, immediacy, and appreciation for meticulous craftsmanship. Anyone who decides to use film appreciates these values highly. They have recorded and developed an image with film that professional people will often describe as an original, which has more character than the digital counterpart.
In our opinion, this feedback is in line with the results achieved by photographers through "Slow Photography." ALPA also supports the photographic education of ETH students in the context of the promotion of young researchers. For the project "Ice Light Voids," we provided the Institute of Landscape Architecture ILA with a sizeable photographic equipment section. The project's analog images were created from February to April 2017 with four ALPA cameras and various accessories. Below this article, you can find some "behind the scenes" images from this day on the glacier.
The "Serendipity" course of the Chair of Landscape Architecture at ETH Zurich discusses spatial composition possibilities with photography and sound based on a large structure in the landscape. "We have approached the dying Morteratsch glacier at the south-eastern tip of Switzerland and investigated its concept," explains Bruno Vollmer, coordinator of the MediaLab at the ETH. "When working with Alpa's medium-format cameras, the workflow of an analog image, and the technique of sound recording and editing, we discussed the communication of space."
Focusing on a single image
The students had the task of approaching the glacier for two days and giving their reference to this landscape in photographic and acoustic work. This task involved the question of landscape perception and representation, on the other hand, media use. "With analog photography and development, we have chosen a medium that forces the students to rethink. There were only a few negatives available, and there was no way to check the results instantaneously. Aspects that are no longer used in modern times have led to the individual image's concentration rising sharply. The moment of the impression is given a completely different meaning. "
The project participants needed reliable material and allowed for a high degree of precision and, at the same time, provides an understandable and straightforward operation, as the students had very little time to prepare themselves. All this had to work under challenging conditions: "At the beginning of March, there was still plenty of snow on the ground that was further covered with ice and rock. On the first day of our workshop, we also had to struggle with a snowstorm, but the results have convinced us, and the disadvantageous circumstances aren't perceived.", Vollmer said. "The students have managed to put the cameras in the impossible places to portray their personal view of the ice mass." Alpa's equipment has worked together with the analog film without letting us feel the circumstances".
Classics ALPA 12 SWA available as a kit
The ALPA 12 SWA is predestined for use with film. We launched it in 1996 as the first camera on the market from the "new" ALPA. The ALPA 12 SWA can be combined perfectly with film rests and suitable lenses due to its dimensions and characteristics. Recently we reworked the camera slightly. The new version will soon be available from stock again. For the friends of analog photography, a kit with a corresponding lens will soon be available.
If you have any questions regarding the shooting with film or ALPA products, please contact your ALPA-dealer or contact us. We are happy to help.