A few years ago, I attended the Kenmore Camera Expo where printers were being sold. Initially, I was hesitant about purchasing one, but upon reflecting on the countless images I had taken over time, I decided to take the plunge. After starting to print my images at home, I soon realized that this added a new dimension to the photographic experience.
To my surprise, the prints I produced were significantly darker than what was displayed on my monitor. Additionally, certain papers did not yield the desired results for certain images, while others proved to be the perfect fit. As a result, I underwent a significant learning process during this period.
Printing photographs at home enabled me to have more control over the final product and allowed me to experiment with different printing papers to achieve my desired results. The process of trial and error also helped me better understand the intricacies of color and image reproduction.
Trying different Papers
One of the benefits of owning a printer at home is the ability to make test prints before investing in expensive metal or acrylic prints. Personally, I have found it to be a valuable tool in ensuring that the exposure and colors of my prints are accurate.
But what does it mean for a paper to be considered "archival"? Essentially, archival paper is acid-free and designed to withstand the test of time. It is commonly used for historical or valuable documents and must meet the ANSI Standards ISO 11108. Archival paper is typically made from cotton pulp instead of wood pulp, which is used in most standard paper.
The weight of the paper per square meter is also an important factor to consider. In the case of the Hahnemuhle Baryta paper, the weight is 315 grams per square meter (gsm). Despite its gloss finish, the paper has a subtle reflection that is less distracting than most glossy papers.
The Hahnemuhle Baryta paper also produces deep, rich colors and contrast, giving images an almost 3-Dimensional look. Its excellent contrast makes it especially ideal for black and white prints.
The most significant advantage of using archival paper is its ability to withstand the test of time. If it is properly protected, it can last for hundreds of years. However, protection is crucial to ensure its longevity. Simply placing a print in a frame without UV-protective glass will not preserve it for long, and the colors will fade over time.
The best way to preserve a print is by using non-reflective museum-quality glass. While traditional non-reflective glass may blur or distort the image, museum-quality glass is crystal clear without being reflective. Moreover, it is 99% UV-resistant, which prevents UV damage to the paper and ink.
It is important to note that museum glass can be quite expensive. Nevertheless, when you are preserving fine art photographic prints, the value of the art you are protecting makes it worth the investment.
After experimenting with various types of paper, I settled on using the Hahnemuhle Baryta paper. Its archival quality, subtle texture, and glossy finish make printing fine art photographs an enjoyable process.