5 Frames… Harman Direct Positive Paper (EI 2 / 4X5 format / Intrepid 4×5 Mk III) – by Phil Harrison

I was recently reading Daphne Schnitzer’s interview and one of the many materials she uses is Harman Direct Positive Paper (DPP). This material sounded like it was just what I was looking for, so I had to give the 4×5 version a go in my Intrepid 4×5 field camera.

Harman DPP is an orthochromatic fibre-based reversal paper with a glossy surface, it can be processed under red light in PQ Universal or Multigrade developer and Rapid Fixer. DPP’s ISO is between 1 and 3, and test prints needed to be made to set up my exposure meter. Prints are positive and horizontally flipped (mirror), any lettering is back to front.

Harman’s Technical Information sheet goes into great lengths about pre-flashing the paper before exposure to reduce contrast, not a method I am able to employ. It’s most enjoyable to set up the bedroom as a darkroom and process the paper.

I bought some small developing trays, chemicals, and have refurbished an old Paterson red safelight. Harman recommends developing for the full time of 3 minutes in PQ Universal and rapid fixing for 1 minute. Once processed, washed and dried, the sheets curl quite badly so are flattened overnight under a copy of the ‘Magnum Contact Sheets’ book, it’s a very heavy tome!

Once flat, I can easily scan the DPP’s and flip the image if necessary.

The garden image was my initial test shot, trial exposures were at f/22, 1 sec, 2 secs, 4 secs, the best print being 2 secs, the meter was calibrated from this exposure. Exposure is still a bit touch and go, I do a few different exposures if I’m uncertain of the lighting. The paper is contrasty, so diffused lighting is recommended, although I’ve had good results in bright sunlight, it has a high definition and is grain-free.

Harman Direct Positive Paper is a fun medium and doesn’t break the bank, it is also ideal for helping me get more large format experience. There is something about the originals that I find fascinating, it’s almost like getting a somewhat delayed Polaroid print. I’ve framed some of the best.

~ Phil

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Philip Harrison
Philip Harrison
Phil spent 25 years as a professional photographer after leaving Photographic College in the mid 1970’s. In his early years, he worked as a medical photographer, based in a hospital in the north of the UK and later came upon a change of direction to industrial photography and film/TV production. In the late 90’s Phil gave up professional photography and trained as a Train Guard, retiring a few years ago. He mainly uses "standard" lenses (50mm/80mm/150mm depending on format) with his cameras. He feels this makes him work harder and the resultant images are better. He doesn't specialise with his photography, enjoying photographing anything that appeals.

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  1. So is the Harman Direct Positive Paper readily available now? We were unable to order it last summer. Haven’t tried to find it recently, but would like to try it sometime.

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