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IT'S JUST PAPER ... OR IS IT????
Welcome to my 2¢
With digital photography, its never been easier to take great photos
but how can your work stand out and be unique? Have your zip drive or memory card framed and hung on your wall?
Professionals take the right shot and edit it perfectly on their computer- but the final product is the print.
Quality and Choices
You have taken special care with aperture, shutter speed, lighting conditions and composition. Then you have taken more time to correct your contrast, saturation, tonality, and sharpness in post. You have been unhappy with your results so you buy a better camera and you're still not there. You spend more money for that tack sharp lens and now you are really close...
The final and most crucial step is to print it. How that is done is just as important if not more important, than all the time and effort you put into capturing that point in time. The ink and media you choose will drastically add mood, emotion and depth to your art. You can't make a bad choice if you use a good printer- but you can make a great choice if you understand paper options as well as you understand your camera's options. Paper choice (like aperture or shutter speed) depends on the effect you are looking for and will matter the most for how well it turns out.
Size and Appearance
Your huge megapixel camera shown even on a high definition monitor
(1920 x 1080) is only 2.1 megapixels. Even an expensive 5K monitor
(5120 x 2880) gets you to 14.7 megapixels which is amazing, but even at 30 inch diagonal measure its still a fraction of its full potential. You are a professional and understand color calibration, 16bit files, Adobe RGB colorspace, why you shoot RAW and save as TIFF not jpeg. How will your work look when its compressed for sRGB? Crushed in size for the web and viewed on the average monitor???
Even more so, a digital file is not even a thing! Its just a series of values your computer interprets and displays for you. You can't hold it, touch it and see it without your computer or phone. A print hangs on your wall, it's real, it's tangible and it has value.
For those who aren't photographers
Maybe you aren't the photographer but you have paid someone to capture a moment in time, a loved one, a birthday, a wedding... Photography has the ability to capture life by the second to preserve it's expression, it's emotion....a moment in time that can't be relived. You paid to have an expert capture this moment because its important to you. Ask any photographer why they resist giving you a digital file... it's usually not because they want to sell you prints, it's because they want their work to shine to it's fullest potential, thus making you happy for many years.
When you order prints online or bring your files in to a store to get the best price on your prints you miss out on the most important part of the process. If you could afford a Ferrari would you not spend money for a garage?
Why would you pay a professional photographer and save money on cheap prints? I would love to work with your photographer as well as you, point them my way and we will get the results your friends and family will envy.
So whats the deal
Simply put there are 2 types of paper
1. PHOTOPAPER (RC)
(glossy, luster, pearl, satin and metallic - with variations) These are paper that are coated with a special ink absorbing plastic and are the most commonly used print media. This material is polyethelene which sandwiches the paper that never sees the actual ink. The paper only serves as color and backbone. This type of paper is known as RC Paper for "resin coated". They are thin and "plasticy" and photographic looking. Of the RC options I tend toward luster finished or metallic depending on my subject.
2. MATTE or FINE ART (FB)
These are made from fibers and sometimes are called fiber based paper (FB). The most expensive and luxurious types found in museums are made of 100% cotton. They are sometime referred to as "rag" paper as once rags where used to make them. They are acid free and archival and turn your photography into a more artsy look. They are thick and heavy and really night and day to RC paper. Most people have had little experience with this paper as it's not used much in general photography. As a result of using this paper, your images will stand out tremendously when hung next to a RC print.
Other matte papers are a mix of wood pulp "alpha cellulose" that contain lignins (a glue found in cell walls) which can yellow your paper in time. Make sure your paper is lignin free.
Fine Art Paper usually implies
100% pure cotton rag paper.
Canvas paper is usually cotton based and may contain polyester. Using varnish to protect them eliminates the need for UV treated glass.
3. BARYTA (ok I lied about 2 types...sort of)
Baryta paper is a fiber based paper (cotton or alpha cellulose) with glossy features, a mix of the two types if you will. The gloss however, is not plastic but a barite (barium sulfate) which is a natural mineral similar to clay. This allows for better print resolution, contrast, richer blacks and wider gamut. This is often considered the gold standard for fine art photography. We are proud to print on Canson Infinity Baryta Photographic papers.
Hot press paper has a smooth velvety texture
that shows crisp detail and I use it when the
photograph can stand on its own, meaning it's rich in detail and requires no help with depth or complexion.
When i hear Hot Press, I think of paper that has been ironed flat.
We are proud to print on Optica one .
Cold press paper is very unique. It's variety of texture is known as "tooth." The more toothy the paper, the rougher it will look and feel.
Why use bumpy paper? This texture can add depth and character to a print that might lack detail- such as an overcast sky or really boost detail on rocky surfaces to make them more dimensional. It also makes the print look more painted. It can soften pixelated photos and hide flaws.
When I hear Cold Press, I think of un-ironed paper. While this doesn't work so well with clothing, it's amazing with the right prints! We are proud to print on MOAB Entrada Textured and Hanhemule William Turner and 302 Rag for our cold press papers.
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