Reproduction With ALPA: Quality Without Compromise

11.2017 - The unique collection of the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel reflects the works of over 120 composers and attracts musicologists, musicians and other researchers from all over the world. When it comes to archiving the documents digitally and thus securing their stock, confidence in the abilities of the photographer is crucial. In the process of digitizing the Igor Stravinsky Collection and the Arthur Wilhelm Collection, the Foundation worked with the experienced expert Ardon Bar-Hama. "It was too risky for us to leave the treasures out of the house for digitization," says curator Heidy Zimmermann. "That is why we chose the 'luxurious' option."

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Photographers page Ardon Bar-Hama
ALPA 12 TC


Ardon Bar-Hama at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. © Ardon Bar-Hama

Ardon Bar-Hama enjoys an outstanding reputation in his profession. He has worked on numerous projects such as the digitalization of the Dead Sea scrolls, which are also known as Qumran roles and contain the world's oldest biblical written document. In addition to other ancient documents, Ardon also digitalized more recent scripts. On behalf of and on the recommendation of the IT group Google, for example, he digitized the records of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu for the following generations.

Finding ALPA as an architecture photographer

One reason that makes Ardon Bar-Hama a master in his profession is the self-developed recording technique. In combination with an ALPA camera, Ardon Bar-Hama is able to shoot images in seconds and in a simplified manner, which had previously only been achieved by a lengthy process.

Ardon became aware of ALPA in 2005 when he photographed an object by the famous Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. Ardon got in touch with ALPA and, to his surprise, soon held one of the cameras in his hand. Company founder Thomas Weber was inspired by the project and sent the first ALPA 12 to Israel. "I needed a larger resolution than conventional cameras could deliver and was glad ALPA supported me. A camera of this quality was not available in Israel and I soon realized that the ALPA is not only a huge potential for my work but also a worthwhile investment for decades. "

ALPA 12 TC - Traveling photo studio

For the first time, the new technique was used in the digitization of the codex of Aleppo from the tenth century, the oldest written representation of the Hebrew Bible being practically complete. Meanwhile, Ardon Bar-Hama has three different cameras. For the projects in cooperation with the Paul Sacher Foundation, he used an ALPA 12 TC with an (older) Schneider / ALPA 72mm lens and an IQ3 100MP back by Phase One. "A big advantage to the camera is its compact size. I am a travelling studio photographer, and so I love the TC: it allows quality without compromise, and as a photographer, you do not need space-saving equipment to work with it - the camera and the appropriate lens are completely sufficient. With this setup, Ardon Bar-Hama shot up to 2000 images in one day - something that would not have been possible with a conventional setup.


Up to 2000 pictures a day: Setup with the ALPA 12 TC for the work in the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. © Ardon Bar-Hama


Closeup: ALPA TC, Schneider / ALPA Apo-Helvetar 5.6/75mm Lens and Phase One 100MP Digital Back © Ardon Bar-Hama


With his work, he contributes to preserving two outstanding collections of the Paul Sacher Foundation of posterity. From the Stravinsky collection alone, the photographer secured over 5000 images and provided them with high-quality reproductions as well as data for recording in a database. It is a very valuable collection that covers a period from about 1880 to 1971, and also contains numerous original prints by famous photographers such as Man Ray, Arnold Newman, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Avedon. Their pictures show not only Stravinsky but personalities from music and culture from the 20th century.


Walt Disney (left) with Igor Stravinsky in the year 1937. © Paul Sacher Stiftung


Group picture at the Amsterdam Central Station with Igor Stravinsky (third from the left) and son (second from the right). Taken on May 23, 1930. © Paul Sacher Stiftung


Igor Stravinsky with Paul Sacher (on the right) and Conrad Beck (on the left) 1929 after a concert in Basel. © Paul Sacher Stiftung

The digitization of the Arthur Wilhelm Collection is a Basel collection, which is kept as a deposit in the Paul Sacher Foundation and is looked after as a collection of its own. It contains about 250 music manuscripts from the 18th to the 20th century, including major works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Stravinsky and others.

Digitalization saves originals

The digitization of the two collections presented particular challenges for the participants. "The photo collection Stravinsky was prepared by two archivists in a months work," says Zimmermann. "In doing so, they had to sort out duplicates and identify subsequently made prints as such, since only original photos should be digitized. Ardon had to adapt himself to very different formats as well as photo albums, contact sheets, negatives and variable picture quality." The collection and the fragility of the documents were a challenge. "They had to be unpacked, the pages had to been turned over and that must be done with the utmost care."


Original of Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" from 1787 © Sammlung Arthur Wilhelm, Paul Sacher Stiftung

Through the digitalisation, the Paul Sacher Foundation has a quickly available comprehensive overview of the stock for the first time. "Suddenly, pictures come into view that, until now, were completely unknown," says Zimmermann. In both projects, digitization also helps to preserve the originals. "Ardon Bar-Hama is already planning his next project with one of his three ALPA 12 cameras.

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