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Subtle or Slick - Which paper is right for you?

July 11, 2016

Many people have a tendency to pick matte or gloss papers when they print without even a second thought, but have you ever stopped to consider the importance of the content and mood of your photos and how your paper choice affects this? The print is the final destination for your image; therefore the qualities of the paper will affect the way it is viewed and interpreted by your audience. By taking a thoughtful and informed approach to marrying your paper to your image, you will create finished works which tell the true story of your subject. Inkjet printing technology has come a long way in recent years, opening up a world of new possibilities for photographers to communicate their unique personal vision.

Traditionally mould-made cotton papers such as Canson BFK Rives or Arches Aquarelle Rag work well when subtlety is important. Lower contrast and black density allow the viewer to see more easily into the shadows and what might be going on in there. The warmth of these paper gives a flattering glow for portraits or can help create a nostalgic or painterly feel. BFK Rives offers a beautiful velvety finish, or Aquarelle Rag is for those who prefer a traditional, more textured appearance. This is paper originally created for the great artists, milled using the same traditional process for over five hundred years, and optimised for digital inkjet printing with a fine coating. Lasting results and a full colour gamut are assured. Perfect for fine art photography, these papers invite you into the image. Like the sound of all this, but want a smoother, brighter white paper to allow for high colour saturation? Canson Rag Photographique may be for you.

For those who appreciate clean lines, sharpness, strong black density and the appearance of a traditional Baryta darkroom print, consider a semi-gloss paper such as Canson Baryta Photographique. Colour and black and white prints alike will benefit from strong contrast and a luminous finish. Ideal for commercial photography when vividness and impact are paramount.

Ilford Gold Fibre Silk is a Baryta-coated paper that is a great all-rounder for fine art printing, but is particularly suited to those who want warm-toned black and white prints. Semi-glossy with a smooth reflective surface, Gold Fibre Silk has just a hint of sparkle, high Dmax and wide colour gamut for blacker blacks and excellent colour saturation.

For a good compromise between these extremes look at a semi-gloss fibre based paper. Crisp and detailed prints with a warm textured finish and a less reflective sheen, these papers will appeal to those who appreciate the tone and weight of classic black and white papers. Like your blacks deep and punchy? Try the Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl or Museo Silver Rag.

As you can see, not all papers are created equal so it is worth investing the time in choosing the best paper on which to display your works. Still confused? Come in and chat to our fine art printing team who can work with you to find a paper to suit your individual needs.