The Heart of the Matter
I'm liking working with the new Harman Direct Positive photo paper more and more. It has that classic heavy thickness, fiber-based silver gelatin glossy print feel and finish, the results directly out of the camera and after processing just as if you'd contact printed a large format film negative onto the equivalent Ilford print paper.
It's slow, in terms of light sensitivity, almost glacially slow. ISO 1.6 is my working exposure index. And, like most other print papers, it's only sensitive to blue and UV light, so you're not going to be exposing images under artificial lighting unless you have a sturdy tripod, a still-life subject matter and plenty of time on your hands. As it is, these direct positive images were made under the indirect daylight of my north-facing porch, the Speed Graphic mounted on a sturdy Bogen tripod. The exposure times were around 3-5 seconds.
I'm starting to think of it in terms of a new photographic medium, working with this paper. As if the intermediary steps of exposing and processing a film negative, prior to the printing phase, is now obsolete. Like a slow Polaroid? Conceptually, perhaps.
Of course, it's all obsolete, this working with light-sensitive emulsions. Or, at least, it's not "bleeding edge." It's been around now almost two centuries, having plenty of time, like a good vintage, to mature. We (those of us few still working in these wet photographic processes) should commend Harman/Ilford for bringing this new paper to market, and should lodge our vote of approval with our pocketbooks.
(Typecast poem via Olivetti Lettera 22)