The ALPA Log
Behind the Scences

The ALPA on and in an Active Volcano


Not the usual location to bring your ALPA to, but certainly a really spectacular one.

July 1, 2019
The ALPA on and in an Active Volcano
A View Behind the Scences

Christophe Daguet is a photographer and geologist by training. He is the head of the digital creation studio, Studio Digitalid, based in Paris. Whenever he finds time between two jobs and also thanks to his partner Prophot Paris, he photographs the world equipped with ALPA and Phase One medium format camera equipment.

Climbing an active volcano is always a unique experience and taking high-definition photographs of volcanic activity at the summit requires a lot of preparation. Today I invite you to climb the slopes of one of the most active volcanoes in the world and join me in this sublime spectacle of nature, with the objective of taking a high-definition photograph of the lava fountains at the summit. Good physical condition and training are necessary to climb the slopes of volcanoes. Equip yourself with good hiking boots, and gaiters, to avoid the infiltration of ashes. Bring everything you need to protect yourself from the sun, cap, hat, glasses, food, dried fruit, energy bars and lots of water. Once at the top, at nightfall, don't forget your powerful headlamp, extra batteries and a windproof jacket to protect you from high winds, and a helmet to protect you from slag if the wind blows in your direction.

At the photography level, several precautions must be taken. Use the help of a professional local guide and make a route identification before departure. Consult it to find the best secure viewpoints. Accurately estimate the ascent time to be able to settle in before sunset.
Take a heavy foot with you, winds can be strong at high altitudes and the slopes of the volcanoes are unstable, consisting of lapillis, slag, and volcanic bombs randomly distributed among powdery ash beaches. Ballast your foot with your bag or stones found on the spot. Once the upgrade is complete, place your device by checking that all moving parts are tightened. Between shock waves, mini earthquakes and wind, getting sharp images will require concentration... and a soft trigger.

To protect your device from volcanic ashes, attach the digital back and the lens before climbing. For this shot, I will use the ALPA 12 SWA, a Phase One IQ3 digital back and a Rodenstock Retrofocus Copal shutter lens. The ALPA camera has several advantages: an ultra-light weight, no power consumption and exceptional assembly precision. Coupled with a chamber optics, whose optical formula is simplified compared to autofocus lenses, we gain a lot of optical precision. Combined with the Phase One IQ3 100MP, we work with one of the most accurate cameras in the world. After determining your frame, performing an LCC for your lens (essential on the ALPA with a wide angle) and estimating the time needed to calibrate the blacks on your back, all you have to do is hold your breath... and enjoy the show.

Christophe Daguet, 2019