Digital photography – which includes digital printing via high quality inkjet printers – has made a wider variety of printing surfaces available as like never before.
We have glossy and matte, warm and cool, smooth and textured, as we had in the past in the darkroom and these surfaces are getting better and better all the time, particuarly with the introduction of the fibre-based papers that have come on the market recently. Aside from the standard glossy and matte, we also have specialised surfaces like canvas and even metal. If you’ve not seen a print on metal, they really can be quite striking.
With all these choices available, it makes choosing the right surface to print a photo on even more important. There are lots of opinions out there on how to choose the right paper for the image and what follows is mine.
Right now, canvas is the hot item. It’s new. It’s cool. It’s different. Well, maybe not so different anymore. It seems like canvas is being used by a lot of photographers for a lot of images that would look better on another surface. It’s almost become cliché, which is unfortunate.
When it comes to printing, I categorise media into two types – hard and soft. Hard are those surfaces that hold finer detail better, provide a crisp appearance, generally have a better colour gamut, more vibrant colours, better DMax and are typically harder to the touch. Gloss, semi-gloss, lustre would fit into this category. As would metal, obviously. Soft are the papers that offer, generally, more muted colours (albeit only slightly in some cases), a lower DMax, provide a more painterly look, a softer look and are softer to the touch. Pretty much just the opposite of hard papers. Things like Velvet Fine Art, watercolour, museum rag, textured rag and canvas are these types of media. A paper like Epson’s Ultrasmooth Fine Art can fit into both but in general the printing media available on the market will fit into one of those two categories. Continue reading