A couple years back I was at the Kenmore Camera Expo and I saw printers on sale. I wasn’t sure if I wanted one but then I thought about all the images I have taken. I started printing at home and soon discovered that this adds another level to the photographic process. My images were quite dark to how they looked on the monitor. Some papers did not work for some images while the same paper worked perfect for others. This was all a learning process.

winter scene in Waterville, washington
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I find the advantage of having my own printer allows me to make test prints at home. Before spending hundreds of dollars on a metal or acrylic print, I wanted to make sure the exposure, colors, etc. were all correct.

Obviously I can’t print on metal or acrylic at home so I have tried many papers. The paper I have settled on is the Hahnemuhle Baryta gloss 315 gsm. This paper is 100% cotton with a slight textured finish, acid free, and archival. Why are some papers archival and other aren’t? Archival paper is acid free and used for historical, or significant value and must also be approved by the ANSI Standards ISO 11108. Archival paper is also made from cotton pulp and not wood pulp like most paper. The 315 gsm refers to the weight of the paper per square meter. This one is 315 grams per square meter. Even though it has a gloss finish, it is very subtle unlike most glossy papers that reflect a lot of light. The Hahnemuhle Baryta paper off deep, rich colors and contrast giving the image an almost 3-D look. With the deep contrast, this paper excels at black and white prints.

Sunset from Kerry Park in Seattle with the space needle and mount rainier
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The real advantage to Archival paper is how long it lasts. If it is well protected, it could last hundreds of years. The important part is the protection. If the print is put in a frame without UV protecting glass, the print will not last long and the colors will fade. Using a non-reflective museum quality glass is the best way to go. Traditional non-reflective glass blurs and distorts the image where as museum quality is perfectly clear without being reflective. Museum glass is also 99% UV resistant preventing UV damage to the paper and ink. Museum glass is not cheap. However, when you are preserving fine art photographic prints, it is the value of the art you are protecting.

I started using the Hahnemuhle Baryta paper after testing several types of paper. The archival quality, slight texture, and slight glossy finish makes printing fine art photographs a fun process. If you are thinking about getting some premium fine art prints for you home, check out my Galleries and send any questions you may have and I will gladly answer them.