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07-09-2013, 08:13 PM   #1
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Printing Images---Different Papers?

I am still pretty new to photography, so much that I have never printed an image before.

Is there some place that I can be directed to, or possibly someone who can share...

What are the different kinds of papers and mediums for printing?

I have seen some canvas wraps that are extremely nice, but the printer for that is super expensive...There is a company in a major city nearby (about an hour + away from me who can print that if I ever need it)...so I want to start with the basics of paper only.

What kinds of papers are there and what are the pro's/cons of them?

I have a bunch of other questions as well (such as what constitutes a good printer if I were to purchase one)...but for now my question is focused on the paper only...that way I can go to a print service and get whatever images I want printed done for me...I just need to know 'printed on what'...

I would like to become much more versed in this.

07-09-2013, 08:46 PM - 1 Like   #2
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As far as branding goes, your best bet is usually to buy the same brand as your printer, as it saves you most of the hassle of finding the right calibration profile.

As for paper types, there are a lot of different types! Here's a couple off the top of my head:
Gloss: shiny, produces sharp details and punchy colors but you might have to deal with glare
Matte: avoids glare issue from gloss, but typically is less sharp and contrasty
Semigloss/pearl: The compromise between gloss and matte
Canvas: Expensive but you get that awesome fabric texture
Metallic: Like gloss to the next level, really makes colors pop but a serious pain to work with
Regular printer paper: great for documents, shit for anything else
Poster: A lot like gloss, 'cept cheaper. Colors and contrast pop a tad more in my experience, but you lose color accuracy, great for presentations and graphs though.
07-10-2013, 12:13 AM   #3
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Adpo's right on the money regarding the differences between papers.

It's also worth pointing out that different types of papers can display different gamuts, and this difference can even be seen between the same product from different manufacturers. For example, Fuji Crystal archive Glossy paper will look different from a brand of Kodak glossy paper. To get exact results from your screen onto print, you'll have to have some know-how, patience, and money to create an accurate profile for each specific paper type and brand for your specific printer.

I find that glossy papers and metallic papers look rather plasticy and show fingerprints like no other. I prefer the texture that matte or pearl images provide. If you plan on mounting the pictures behind glass, the difference between Matte and Gloss will be less noticeable, however. Also worth noting is how different types of inks are handled by different types of paper. Inkjet dye looks quite nice on gloss, but pigment based inks tend to perform better on matte. Since I prefer the less plasticy look of matte and have my photos printed with pigment based inks, I typically print on matte.

Instead of investing a heap of time and money into getting my own printer, ink, paper, and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, I get my prints done at my local photography shop. They have far nicer equipment than I can ever be able to afford, offer a wider variety of papers than I could keep on hand, and provide the expertise to consistently do a great job. Also, I don't have to worry about inks drying up when they're not used, or constantly having to clean the cartridge heads, or facing smudges from dye based inks. I just asked the fellows who work there for the ICC profiles for their printers and printed out a few test images. After a few tweaks over the course of an afternoon, I was profiled and ready to go. Lots of other people enjoy the 'at home' printing process. I, however, find it massively frustrating. But, that's just me.
07-10-2013, 11:31 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gerbermiester Quote
Instead of investing a heap of time and money into getting my own printer, ink, paper, and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, I get my prints done at my local photography shop. They have far nicer equipment than I can ever be able to afford, offer a wider variety of papers than I could keep on hand, and provide the expertise to consistently do a great job. Also, I don't have to worry about inks drying up when they're not used, or constantly having to clean the cartridge heads, or facing smudges from dye based inks. I just asked the fellows who work there for the ICC profiles for their printers and printed out a few test images. After a few tweaks over the course of an afternoon, I was profiled and ready to go. Lots of other people enjoy the 'at home' printing process. I, however, find it massively frustrating. But, that's just me.
Each to his own, but I find printing to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of photography. To me, it is the completion of the whole process, and I do not want to relinquish control to a lab technician.

I print with an Epson 3880. When I first started printing 3 1/2 years ago, I used a variety of glossy papers, finally settling on Canson Platine. However, in the past year, I have discovered matte papers, which I now use almost exclusively for fine art purposes. I prefer smooth mattes in which the surface virtually disappears. This is their great advantage over glossy and pearl papers, in which surface reflections detract from the image, even when framed behind glass. Matte papers have lower Dmax (blackness levels) and narrower color gamuts, but it doesn't seem to matter much, IMO. They just look better. My favorite matte papers are Epson Hot Press Natural and Bright for color and Museo Portfolio Rag for B&W. It is essential that you use a good profile and the proper media settings for you printer.

I would suggest that you get sample packs for some of the papers that you are considering. Good luck, and have fun printing.

Rob

07-10-2013, 12:46 PM   #5
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Personally, I enjoy printing stuff on my own. Sure, calibration and profiling is a major PITA, but it all seems worth it when you have a beautiful 13x19 print of your photo coming out onto the tray. For myself, I've got an old HP 8750 and I go between HP's photo papers and Ilford's Gallerie papers
07-10-2013, 01:46 PM   #6
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Printing is the natural finale in the process of MAKING a photograph and in the grand scheme it is the most complex and time consuming step but the enjoyment of holding a fine large-format print on your hands is un-parallel. To do it right, you must invest in a printer with pigmented inks and use quality media for it. It can certainly be expensive depending on the amount of printing and experimentation.

Regarding “paper” choices your option range from actual papers, to real canvas, to all kinds of specialty media like aluminum, fabric, vinyl, and many others.

For home printing paper is the more realistic choice. Canvas prints look great, but unless you have a large format printer, the final print will be very small since you need 3-4 inches to wrap the canvas around the frame.

Regarding finishes you can think of two general categories, “Glossy” which also includes semi-gloss, luster, satin, etc., and “Matte”. Generally speaking “glossy” prints can show a bit more detail and contrast, but they have that “drugstore print look” that many find un-appealing. On the other hand a well-made print on heavy matte paper can convey the look of a fine art print with a bit of muted tones and no reflections.
07-10-2013, 08:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by adpo Quote
As far as branding goes, your best bet is usually to buy the same brand as your printer, as it saves you most of the hassle of finding the right calibration profile.
Calibration profile? Whoa. I knew this was a whole new can of worms...LOL!

QuoteOriginally posted by adpo Quote
As for paper types, there are a lot of different types! Here's a couple off the top of my head:
Gloss: shiny, produces sharp details and punchy colors but you might have to deal with glare
Matte: avoids glare issue from gloss, but typically is less sharp and contrasty
Semigloss/pearl: The compromise between gloss and matte
Canvas: Expensive but you get that awesome fabric texture
Metallic: Like gloss to the next level, really makes colors pop but a serious pain to work with
Regular printer paper: great for documents, shit for anything else
Poster: A lot like gloss, 'cept cheaper. Colors and contrast pop a tad more in my experience, but you lose color accuracy, great for presentations and graphs though.
I think for my first few times around I will stick with the first three on the list there. Gloss--probably not as much. Matte and Semi-Gloss/Pearl seem like they have definite possibilities for me. I am still a ways off from having anything that I would want to print...but when I get the opportunity I am going to try it out.

I also really like the canvas wraps... but I will wait until I get a great image before I go that route. It's a few hundred bucks to get it printed and stretched and all that...

For now I will stick with the paper...

I need to really just get better images of things I am personally satisfied with though. In the end I think it will be cool to decorate the house with a bunch of photos I've taken. I also think seeing the image through to the end product will also help me to refine my shooting and post processing. I have only been taking photos a bit more than a year, and have only ever tried post processing for the last 6 months.

That said I want to get something good down as far as images go and then take that to the next step which would be a medium of presentation. I think it may help with my ideas and style of photography.
07-10-2013, 08:20 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gerbermiester Quote
Instead of investing a heap of time and money into getting my own printer, ink, paper, and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, I get my prints done at my local photography shop. They have far nicer equipment than I can ever be able to afford, offer a wider variety of papers than I could keep on hand, and provide the expertise to consistently do a great job. Also, I don't have to worry about inks drying up when they're not used, or constantly having to clean the cartridge heads, or facing smudges from dye based inks. I just asked the fellows who work there for the ICC profiles for their printers and printed out a few test images. After a few tweaks over the course of an afternoon, I was profiled and ready to go. Lots of other people enjoy the 'at home' printing process. I, however, find it massively frustrating. But, that's just me.
At least in the start I think I will go this route as well. At least until I sort out what I 'really like'...in which case I could very well buy a printer and go from there...

07-10-2013, 08:27 PM   #9
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Thank you to everyone for your comments. I have a lot to consider... but I am with demp10, adpo, and robgo2 in that I feel like it would be especially satisfying seeing what images I take go to their final form. If it wasn't enjoyable I wouldn't be doing it

I still need to work on getting the image though...and learning how to post processes it to get what I am after... It's a lot to learn though...

I will say this though... I was in my old job and staying in a hotel out in West Texas once...and the manager of the hotel and I got to chatting when they saw my camera gear... I showed them some of my shots and low and behold they wanted to purchase an image of mine! Really! I was floored.

They wanted to hang the photo up in their hotel... it was a nice shot of a sunrise with all the colors and so forth... I never followed through with them (I was overwhelmed with work at the time doing 18 hour days 5 or 6 days a week)... but still... the thought counted...
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