Does the Paper Choice Matter?
The simple answer is Yes, of course paper matters but why? My work is created to print not project. My Paper choices is usually Hahnemühle Fine Art Papers. People say it so expensive but the paper choice finishes the print and I want my images to look as good as they can. There’s no point spending £1000’s on a camera and printing the image on basic photo paper.
The final images is created in Photoshop and no matter how happy I am with it, it’s not finished yet, as I have to match it with the paper and print it (Epson P600 with Epson Ink} . My paper choice makes or breaks the image. That can be hours wasted.
Which paper for which image? That’s another one of those skills that’s part of the process. The more you print the more you learn. The type of paper depends on what you want the print to look like when it’s finished and what environmental issues need addressing? The right paper is the difference between a an acceptance and an award.
What do you want the finish print to look like?
Photo – Glossy,Semi Gloss or Matt?
Arty – Smooth or Textured? or World Friendly Smooth or Textured?
Most people have a sample pack on the shelf and are a great place to start. Sample packs help you choose the right papers by doing simple test prints.You can get sample packs in Photo, Art Papers and the Naturals Line, they are really worth trying. You can not only try the papers but you can see the coatings and feel the textures of the papers.
Make a Sample Sheet to try out the papers. Divide the sheet up with four or six sample images. Print this sheet on several the of sample paper. Label each with the paper type and make notes on the sheet or give a simple tick or a cross. Save the Sheets to a file as a reference.
Choices from Gloss, Semi Gloss to Matt and Baryta. They all have their place in printing world.
There’s lots of choices and it all depends what you’re looking for in the final print. For my more photographic prints are printed on Photo Rag Satin as it gives an arty choice with a shine.
Photo Rag Metallic is one of kind. This paper is for those special images that need that extra. It’s not a paper I ever thought I’d like but this is the paper for my sci-fi and bright arty shots. it gives you everything, That as it’s an art paper with a metallic coating. Whats not to like.
Art - Smooth
Smooth Art Papers are for those prints that have a soft dreamy feel and you son’t want to add any extra texture but want that rental feel to the final blending of image and print.
My Personal go to is simple Photo Rag. It comes is two weights and 188gsm and 308gsm and you can get it with a deckle edge. It’s a white paper with a felt texture that adds that little extra to the print. It’s good for books too, as you can get it in Duo (Double Sided). Photo Rag is a fourth in many ways as it have a variety of variations in coatings and also comes in bright white.
The environmentally friendly go to is Bamboo 290gsm in natural white for that warm tone in your work. yes, it’s made from 90% bamboo. If I could only buy one paper from Hahnemühle it would be Bamboo.
Art - Textured
Textured paper adds that final touch to of texture to your work. There’s so much choice of textured papers.
My go to is German Etching 310gsm a white paper, a favourite with most photographers. It has a distinct texture that compliments images perfectly giving that textured image that little extra.
For a textured green version, there’d choose Hemp 290gsm a white and it’s created from 60% hemp fibre. It gives you everything that German Etching gives you with a environmentally friendly paper.
Want that extra texture? Then William Turner 310gsm white, it’s a mould made water colour paper that’s coated, it also comes with a choice of deckle edge. It’s not for every image. It adds a depth and richness to the image, a great combination.
I love printing, watching the paper come out of the printer and see your image matched to the paper appear, this is a special moment. I use Epson P600 with Epson Inks, mainly using matt inks. I save up the prints that need to use the photo black and do that all at once usually before putting a talk together.
Printing to a mount size is important, normally my preference is to print with a white border when mounted. During the preparation for printing my image there is a 1cm allowance minimum on the top, bottom and sides of the print before between the print and the mount. Occasionally, the bottom of the print can be bigger, print dependant.
Often you only see the mistakes when it’s printed but it’s worth it to get it right. I don’t do sample prints or test strips anymore. It takes time to know the papers and how they work with the images, it’s a skill to learn just like using a camera.
Holding a print in your hand is something special, the image isn’t finished until you an do that. That’s why I pass my prints rounds at talks, then people can see the marriage of print and paper to create the final image.
Mounting prints is also a skill. There are choices. You can buy the mount board and cut your own apertures to fit the print shape.
The easier choice to to buy your mounts pre cut to size, then you can have a print preset crop in Photoshop.
The reason for this is most of my images are square so it’s easier. I do have them cut to size as the square is to the top of the mount with three equal borders. There are occasions that I need a landscape or portrait. These are standard size. Most club photographer print in A3 or A4. Sticking to a basic size makes my life easier.
Each year, I put together a new talk of around eighty to ninety prints, the thought of having to cut them would be very daunting. Paper Spectrum have board and pre-cutting many colours but I usually order you can pick them up at events.