Another Break in the Wall

11.2015 - To write something about the power of photography on the ALPA website, would mean 'carrying coals to Newcastle'. But we at ALPA are time and again impressed by the power of images.

One of the most intriguing projects that we at ALPA were recently able to support with materials and ideas, is the 'Line-of-Sight' project by the German photographer Michael Korte. Sort of on the trace of Jules Verne, he traveled 80 days around the world with an ALPA 12 SWA in order to visually break through walls and steer the viewer's gaze into the distance far beyond the horizon. His installation space opens up in the truest sense a whole new world for the guests of Bergmann Boardinghouse Osnarbrück, where his images will be on display.

Michael Korte proves in an extremely impressive way that landscape photography at a high qualitative level can also be realized (in this case consisting of ALPA 12 SWA, HR ALPAR 4.5 / 35mm, PhaseOne P45+) with a lightweight, robust and very suitable travel setup. But enough introduction: Learn from the photographer himself, as he stemmed this mammoth project in record time and which adversities he overcame.

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You will find selected pictures in the gallery 'Line of Sight' here on our ALPA website.
Gallery: Line of Sight
Photographer: Michael Korte
Project Website (German only): Line of Sight

A trip around the world with the ALPA 12 SWA / Rodenstock 4.0 / 35mm and a Phase One P45 + digital back
by Michael Korte

For the room installation project ‘Line of Sight’ I received the job assignment to travel through eight countries across five continents within three months in order to photograph landscapes on preset axes. Since I undertook the journey alone without an assistant, I was only able to take 30 kg of luggage: tent, sleeping bags, stoves, clothes for all climates and a compact camera whose images had to be enlarged up to four meters for the room installations later on. In addition, it was foreseeable that this camera had to endure quite a lot! The route went through Patagonia (-20 degrees, snowstorms), the US (+40 degrees), French Polynesia (on an atoll), New Zealand (+15 to -15 degrees), Japanese Islands (subtropical climate, humidity 95%), Mongolia (dust and severe thunderstorms), Egypt (+60 degrees, sandstorms) and Ethiopia (2000m to 4500m altitude). For this reason, the camera should have very few electronic parts, since it was foreseeable that this would give out at some point, most likely in areas where there would be no service. If anything should happen, I had to at least have the chance to be able to repair them again. This trip in addition to the high mountain and desert hikes also required a special photographic technique: that of the ‘landscaping snapshot shooting’. So I needed a camera that could trigger vibrationfree at dusk with a 1/15 sec, because I would have too little time for the motives for using a tripod. I made the trip with an ALPA 12 SWA, equipped with a Rodenstock HR Alpar 4.0 / 35mm and a Phase One 45+ back. The description of an actual day might best reflect the challenges of such a project.

From my diary:
DATE: 7/15/2015
TIME 2:06 clock
LOCATION: New Zealand / Nelson
DISTANCE: far away from a repair shop
CONDITION: pretty panicked

‘I just saw something gray shooting at me and, presence of mind, I sat both walking sticks sideways before my right leg that the gray something was facing. At the same time I tried to bring myself in security by jumping on a dry piece of coral. Not that easy with the 30kg backpack on my back. I landed sideways on the coral, rolled onto the backpack where my ALPA was stowed. I looked back and saw an approximately 1 meter long blacktip reef. Apart from scarring on the upper body and legs by the coral, which, however, until today still hurt: ‘lucky! Nothing happended’ I thought. Though when I unpacked my ALPA to photograph an evening mood, I had two parts in my hands: the PhaseOne back was was ripped off the housing from the fall on the corral. The WORST-CASE scenario! My main camera scrap! This happened on the last night on Tahanea. I did not have enough time to take a look at the camera because I had to continue to New Zealand that same evening. After arriving in New Zealand I had to directly continue from Auckland on to Nelson and therefore had little chance to repair the camera in on-site. If it would have even been a possiblity at all. The housing of the ALPA and the Rodenstock lens had gotten no damage, but the PhaseOne back was torn off the flange, the part which attached the back with the ALPA backadpater. It's usually connected by a snap mechanism and a U-rail on the bottom. Now, the shutter opening on top was bent and the holder of the U-rail on the bottom was torn, which used to be fixed by two small screws. One of these very small, special screws were missing. The good news: since the ALPA has no electronic connections, except an external cable to trigger the digital backs, the damage ‘only’ appeared mechanically on the attachment of the PhaseOne back. However, the mechanical parts that were now bent, had been previously measured and adjusted by the engineers at ALPA in Zurich to 1/100 mm. And on me I only had my Leatherman as a ‘fine tool’. After I had all the parts more or less aligned again, this small screw was still missing. It took me three days before a computer business in Blenheim was able to fly it in from Auckland. Unfortunately, the head of the screw was too high, so I could not install the back onto the housing evenly. After a long search I found a hobby craft store in Richmund, which filed down the screw head. Throughout the tinkering by the helpful people some fingerprints however got onto the sensor. There was a photo shop in Nelson, which in fact had fluids for sensor cleaning. But it was the wrong fluid for the Phase One back, as I found out.

Using this wrong cleansing fluid left the sensor with streaks that were so bad that I was afraid to not be able to get the protective glass free of streaks again. PANIC! I searched the Internet for solutions at night. Somewhere I found a cleaning description with isopropanol and distilled water and since I had nothing to lose, I bought the stuff the next day at the pharmacy and tried them out. As a test run, only on the glass of my iPad. Against fingerprints pure alcohol (isopropanol), and against small evaporation stains caused by contamination of the alcohol, distilled water in homeopathic doses. If that wasn’t going to work out on the sensor, I could pack my things and end the journey. But ......... it works! The only thing I had to fix now, was the incorrect position of infinity of the ALPA with the PhaseOne back, caused by my rough adjustment of the housing’s rear part. I made a series of test images, for which I set the focusing point on the lens’ distance scale forward. Coming to find out that ‘infinity’ now was on the 6 meter mark. Thanks to the precise distance scale of the ALPA HPF ring, it was easy to read and make the adjustment. Since I almost always use the infinity setting for my landscape photography, things were looking good again. That was lucky!’

Geodetic Lines Nikolaiort, Germany and Positions in Papua New Guinea:
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Final Line of Sight Images for the Bergmann Boardinghouse, Stairway:
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