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David Wood, DR5 Processing


Can you tell us a little about the process that you have developed?

Dr5 is a true reversal B&W process for most all B&W films. With a photochemical background in chemistry, I experimented feverishly to achieve results. “dr5” is the fifth incarnation of the process. dr5 became my invention, totally different from any other published B&W reversal process, both chemically and procedurally. dr5 is a Trade-secret process and does not hold a patent - though we could have gone this route. In 1998, after keeping the method to myself for seven years, I decided to offer the dr5 process to other professional photographers. The result of which is now a client base of hundreds of astonished clients. In 1997 I contracted Tecnolab in Italy to make the dr5 processor. In the beginning of the service dr5 was done by hand in a hand line sink. The processor allowed me to offer better quality, higher volume, but also maintain custom capability.

Dr5 is actually “2” processes – a neutral and a sepia process. Each is unique.

What drew you to developing this process?

In early 1989, while working as a professional photographer in NYC, I was using color transparency film for most of my work, I grew tired of the poor quality B&W lab. I wanted to include “Black & White-chromes” to enhance my Black & White work. At the time, there was no quality way to accomplish this. I wanted the same controls I had with regular B&W. I wanted to deliver stunning archival B&W images without the cost and hassle of negs+contact+prints, to save my clients money and time. With the onset of digital post and not being wholly satisfied with the look of the digital image, especially for B&W, I also wanted something that was easy to scan.

Thus, the Dr5 idea was born.

Robert Walwyn, Shot on Tri-X, DR5 Processed, 2019

Do you think more people will be shooting with the intention of having DR5 processing for pre press or fine art slide presentation?

Don’t know. If I step outside of myself and view the process on a lightbox, I am still astonished. Dr5 is superior to any other development, or digital – usually 4~5 times the quality of the negative counterpart. Anyone that scans film knows a transparency is superior to scan, and since all film is usually scanned why wouldn’t one want something better.

How have you seen slide positive film change over the time you have been within the industry?

Yes. Dwindling demand. I don’t have an explanation for the decline.

What is your favourite film to use for this process?

I like all the films. Each has its own uses and this is the beauty of the process.. pick which film is best suited for the scene and range required. Many of my favorites have been discontinued, TXP to name 1. TechPan. PlusX. If I had to pick 1 film today.. HP5. HP5 is the only film that can push to high iso in Dr5. 1000iso without much change. 3200 max.

Etienne Reynaud, Shot on Ilford HP5, DR5 Processed, 2019

What does DR5 mean?

Direct reversal – ‘5’ is the 5th incarnation, or the 5th recipe perfected

How does DR5 Differ to Scala film processing?

Big difference, though the result is similar. We actually process much of the remaining scala film. The Dr5 process runs scala film to a higher standard/quality. Dr5 is a chemical reverse process, while the scala process is a light reversal process. Dr5 also will create positives from most all B&W films, while the scala process can not.

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