The first one was rather a disappointment, I knew the Harman Direct Positive Paper was contrasty, but did not expect such deep blacks, this was a sunny day. The developer I am using is Harman Warmtone at 1:9 dilution.
I did know that pre-flashing reduced contrast, so not having a suitable light source or anywhere to do this in the dark, I tried to pre-flash in-camera using the white diffuser on the Pinsta. See second photo. This was an improvement, but it was obvious that using this method caused a heavy vignette. Just doing a pre-flash in camera and developing (without taking a picture) made this obvious. 3rd photo.
So I decided to make a light source that I can use in a changing bag or my Calumet Film Changing Tent, the tent is better as it has more room. I was surprised at how dim the light had to be. The light source I used was an EL panel (https://www.earlsmann.co.uk/lighting-components/electroluminescent-products/el-panels/) Battery powered with a few sheets of ND filters and diffusing sheet. The 4x5 paper is placed on the diffuser and a switch is used to turn on/off the light. Remember when doing this to put all the other sheets back in the box before turning on the light panel!
To get the right pre-flash exposure, I followed the instructions for pre-flashing the paper on the Ilford website. I did a series of exposures with stepped exposures on a sheet. I took 4 sheets before I got in the right ball park. See the test strip photo. I picked the exposure that just started to move from total black, in this case 25 seconds.
The next shot was with pre-flash paper and the result was amazing. Photo below. So much tonal variation and no obvious vignetting, which really surprised me.
A quick process with lightroom and Silver Effex Pro 2 giving it a sepia tone gave the following result.
I am also very pleased with how the border turns out, different every time.
I also show a developed and pre-flashed image to show that it is just short of being black and it shows that the great border on these prints are produced during development in camera, where the camera body stops some of the paper being developed.
Wonderful 😃 Note: I did not even try to reduce the dust in these images, I think it adds to the charm.