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Harman Gloss FB Al

7th January 2009 | Papers

Harman was formed by six former managers of the long established Ilford company who bought out their manufacturing facilities in the UK. It is named after Alfred Hugh Harman who founded the original company in 1879. With Gloss FB Al, Harman has specifically targeted the B&W fibre-based gelatin silver look to the extent that it uses the same baryta (barium sulphate) as its base … and with a smell that will remind many of their darkroom days! The paper has been further tweaked with the addition of alumina for “a high degree of glossiness, optical image density and vibrancy”.

The result is a very smooth paper with a superfine lustre, 320gsm in weight and with a thickness just over 0.3mm (which makes it fairly dense). The paper colour has target CIE L*a*b* values of 98.6, 0.5, -2.5 which places it on the cool side and as a consequence less suited to colour output. For B&W prints using Ultrachrome HDR inks the look is somewhere between that of air-dried and ferrotype glazed traditional B&W fibre paper. With these inks, blacks hit an L* of 3 which is a higher density than reportedly even Ansel Adams ever achieved. (At Macquarie Editions, all papers for B&W printing are L* linearized for equal density increments throughout the tonal range so these blacks are achieved with optimal shadow separation.) I have created toning variants for this paper with different blacks from cool to true neutral and have found something slightly cooler than neutral to be the most natural, but the colour can be varied to match the image. It’s this level of control that makes digital B&W really worthwhile.

When comparing the results with darkroom papers, there is very slight gloss differential in the highlights plus solarization of the deep shadows, but you have to be holding the print at an extreme angle to notice these artifacts. When mounted behind glass, these are unlikely to be a problem. (I only mention them because people who made fibre prints instead of the more popular resin-coated equivalents are likely to somewhat picky.)

It should be noted that this is a high-acutance paper and thrives on high resolution files. The printers used by Macquarie Editions will resolve details from files up to 720ppi, though there are diminishing returns the higher the resolution. Still, if you’ve captured sufficient information, this is one paper that will make best use of it. A lesser amount of (or no additional) sharpening should be applied to files when destined for this paper.

As a final note, the surface is somewhat fragile and will scratch easily. All prints from Macquarie Editions are delivered interleaved with acid-free tissue and this tissue should be retained until mounting.

I have printed samples of this paper to show and will be expanding the range of sizes available. If you’ve been holding out for a non-matte paper that will make the most of your finest B&W images, this is it!

Click here to download the datasheet.

Antarctic Iceberg 1 2009 - Dick Barwick

Antarctic Iceberg 1 2009 - Dick Barwick