Paper: What You Need to Know
When you guys think about buying and working with prints, you got to buy some papers. We're gonna start with papers. I think that's the first place we really want to start. Because when you think about what is the print ultimately gonna look like that's ultimately decided in majority and a significant part by the paper. So for most of your picking a paper, you decide the decision of your paper based on one decision and you decide paper is determined by cost. You go. I'm gonna go to Costco. I'm gonna go to Amazon. I'm going to go to where you buy your paper b NH, and you're, like, sort by price sort by cheapest, I'll take that paper Cost is only one factor of paper, and it's actually the least important aspect of the paper because there's a lot of other things we need to consider when we think about paper. One of the most important aspects is we want to think about the color of the paper the color of the paper from a bright white to a more neutral white. Because the whitest point in you...
r photograph is the paper base. Printers don't create white they allow the paper to show through to create white. So if you want a warmer tone, if you're a portrait photographer, you're a wedding photographer, and you want thes warm, rich tones to come through. You'd want a paper that had a warmer Richard kind of a yellow base to it. You wouldn't choose a paper that has a really bright white clue, clue based. How about blue base to it in the library with the hatchet. You want a nice blue base to, because it would potentially cool down somebody skin tones. You have to change the way we print, so color becomes important is the actual thickness of the paper the heavier and thicker the paper, the more of, ah, fine art paper? It feels to it, the more it feels like a traditional historical silver gelatin print. And so we think about the thickness of the papers. Well, it also allows for the ink to be actually held in the substrate differently, so a thicker paper actually will hold the ink differently, and so that's going to change our impression of it. We can also think about the D Max, which is the actual black of the paper. De Max is probably one of the most important aspects of the photograph because it ultimately dictates the contrast range. So that purist point of black and that point of white in the paper determines the range that's there. What it's so exciting about digital printing is in the analog, and I'm still an analog printer. I still have a traditional silver gelatin dark room, so we're not going to tell any of my friends about this. In the traditional analog world, a D Max is on a scale measured from about 04 It's a theoretical scales. What actually goes higher than four but zero forest kind of that range somebody like an Ansel Adams, Who is we? Kinda hold is the hallmark of great contrast in Black. My printing the D. Max on the papers were about a 2.32 point 35 We've been chasing that silver gelatin world with the new papers that are out, and some of the new Inc sets were added to 5 to 6. So for the first time ever, we're exceeding the D Max capabilities of the analog dark room, so it's a really exciting time to actually be in this process of looking a contrast range some of the other important elements that there is the surface luster glossy pearl Matt. And then we mark it up those words. They all sound a little different. At the end of the day. It comes down to we have Matt paper, which has kind of a smoother, softer finish, and we have a luster glossy which has mawr punch to it. We're going to talk about how that's important later from some of our processing decisions. But making that determination is important. We often times gravitate towards things of high contrast in saturation. First, when we first look at a photograph, we look for sharp elements. We look for higher saturated elements. We look for brighter elements within a photograph, were attracted to that initially. So a lot of people drift towards a more glossy paper because that's where that punch comes from. However, as our I starts to live with a print and look at a print longer, we end up with a more sophisticated appreciation of the photograph. So the subtle tones have settled, nuances become more important, the subtle shifts in color become important and that's oftentimes reflected in a less glossy paper. It's not that it can't be in a glossy paper, but the difference in those is sometimes more noticeable with the matte paper or ah, luster paper a pearl finish so you might start with a glossy paper and love it. But if you put that image on the wall and put a more Matt print on the wall in the end, most people drift more towards that Matt Side because of the sophistication of the color but were initially drawn to that contrast. The other couple things add up to their interesting is archive Illness is determined by the paper and the ink set. For the most part, where Modern Inc sets were in the 100 or 200 year range on the archive ability, the Wilhelm Institute does a bunch of researcher. They basically take paper, put ink on it, and then they put it into these massive little micro sons they've built. I have a son in their lab. They actually take those, and they accelerate the process so that what if it was exposed to 150 years of sunlight, So the intensity of that under glass not under glass. And so that's how they work that process to figure out that archive ability. If anybody's got photographs from the seventies sixties and they were color, they've got this really nice. What I like to call the historical tent to them. They've got that kind of weird orangy yellow. And then when you look back and if you've got kids like I have a new niece, it looks the photograph. She's like, Wow, I can't believe how dingy and yellow the world waas I'm like I know it was a terrible time, but that's because those papers didn't have the archive ability that we have now is when a lot of ways we're actually seeing much more archival color work than we have before. Silver gelatin is always if it's improperly archived and fixed and toned has had a long life, but that archive abilities important. Most papers, I said, are like in that range and doesn't matter if you're on a Canon hp Epson printer. You're using the pigment ink. You're gonna have that long activity. The gamut is the other one. That, for me is the most important. So everybody wants to know what paper do I print on as if there's one. If you go to the store, there's hundreds to play with. The gamut is the color volume at the paper controlled. How much space actually gets to live within their, and we're gonna look at some gamut things here in a second. But that's another one, because when I have certain images that maybe have a certain intensity of color, I might choose a paper where I know the volume and gamut of the reds is better in this paper than in this paper. This has a lot of saturated reds. I might choose a paper for that reason. The other one is the texture a little bit more self disclosure than I normally give. But I like to take the paper and so soft or its rough like sandpaper, so the texture is really important to paper. Like you pick up paper is great when you actually start printing, and we pick it up to be like I feel so good, so luscious, so creamy, whatever it is. So that texture is actually important because the other thing that texture does is it affects the gradations, and it affects the perceived sharpness. So one of things is a paper with a slight level of texture to its gonna have the ability to create the perception of more sharpness without actually sharpening the photograph. That little bit of texture just gives our I up a little bit of extra shadow instagram. But on an image worth smooth gradation and tonality is important. We might want an ultra smooth paper. So those great Asians cumbias seamless as possible without having the iron officially created. So all of these factors come into play as we start to think about papers. So it's not just about money, it's about thinking about these other pieces. This is a lot of work. I'm not gonna let if you're gonna start to get into printing. That's gonna be a lot of work. The great part is, for most people, you're gonna end up with just a couple of papers. You'll end up with a matte paper because you could spend a lifetime testing the papers. Cancer makes hundreds of papers absent, makes hundreds of papers. Moab mixed paper. Hannah meal makes paper. Every has got paper, and you could literally spend a lifetime testing paper. What's the ultimate want to do is you start to think about what are these parameters. And then how do I narrows down and I get a mat or to get a semi glass for glass paper on a proof paper? So you're not in print testing mode. The goal is to be behind the camera, creating as many photographs as possible. And the more you know your materials, just the more you know what's actually possible or not possible.