Papers For Printing Photographs

join us now on Flickr at slash groups slash art of photography everybody welcome back once again to the art of photography I am your host Ted Forbes and in this episode we're going to talk a little bit about printing and I realized this is not a subject that we've talked about before in this show and I think it's a really important subject I think that our generation of photographers I mean obviously the Internet has been the biggest media sensation if you will a really cheesy term but it's it's been such a part of our lives that I think most of us get used to using Flickr using our own websites our own blogs things like that and I think one thing that photographers ignore a lot is actually printing a physical image and I think this is really important it's really important just in your own growth of as a photographer in studying your own work and also I think it's important for people to be able to see photography I think it's really a lot of fun and it's important to be able to do a show and have people come and see your work I've got four prints that you can see behind me sort of these were all done for a show and I'm going to talk a little bit about the East I'm gonna talk about some stuff that I've done at home these were actually done in a photo lab and these were actually like I said proof prints that did for a show and when you're gonna do prints there's basically two ways you can go you can either print them at home in various methods so you can either use a darkroom or you can use an inkjet printer or something like that or you can send them out to a photo lab but these particular prints were done at a photo lab I do both I do some printing at home and I do something that's in lab doubt to a lab the biggest difference for me between the two is size and if they need to go big like this these are actually the prints are actually about 14 inches by 14 inches or so 14 15 and they're actually printed on 16 by 20 paper and so we'll get it we'll do another episode on cropping and presentation stuff like that but I just wanted the entire image on there so I just kind of had them print them in the middle of the image but be able to say sixteen by twenty is the paper size and that's not something that I'm capable of doing at home you can buy printers to do that but generally they're more expensive because they're larger they come in a bigger paper sizes and so for a job like that I will send those out to a photo lab just because you know whether you use somebody locally or whether you send them out to you know company in New York or something like that the price that you're going to get per print is makes much more sense to somebody like me then spending several thousand dollars on a printer that's gonna be that size just because I don't print day to day that size so but I do do some work at home and that's kind of what I want to talk about a little bit there companies like being aged adorama adorama it's got a really good facility for it these are in the United States I believe there's some in Europe in England as well that will do really nice prints for you and they're totally worth the money to do you don't have a lot of control when you send stuff out to a lab I typically will include a proof print that I have made at home just so they get an idea of the tones and colors and and they have something to base that on for accuracy I'm gonna do a separate show on this we'll get into in a minute but I want to give a good overview on this whole process but let's talk about printing at home more or less the the most common method that most people use is inkjet printing and you can also use darkroom if you have a darkroom set up I do both I don't think really there's a pro or a con over one of the other I enjoy the darkroom because you know I tend to be on a computer at work most of the day and I'd like to make something with my hands after a while and so darkroom for me is a very zen therapeutic kind of you know opposite to what I'm doing during the day on a computer so that's just me personally there are a lot of fine art photographers that shoots inkjet or shoot print out on the inkjet paper there's nothing wrong with that but more or less you're going to need an inkjet printer for the digital side of things and one thing I want to stress on here is there a number of printers available in all kinds of price points and ranges most printers are fairly affordable for the most part that will do you know accommodate up to a you know eight-and-a-half by 11 sheet of paper the one that I have does that and I will here's the gotcha on printers is the ink is extremely expensive usually so a lot of times you'll see printers that come out and they've got like you know nine colors of ink in there and stuff don't get caught up on that is a spec as much I think it's more important what kind of paper you're printing on and the resolution of the printer you can always tweak color and kind of figure that out in the process and so I think one of the specs if you're interested in buying an inkjet printer to look at more so than how many ink cartridges it'll take because that ends up costing a lot of money but the more important thing is line resolution and paper and I want to talk about paper a little bit and I've got some examples to show you here I you know what you don't want to do is you know I've known photographers to do this they they get really discouraged because they you know go up to their office and they shoot you know a very large TIFF or Photoshop file over to the laser printer and it's got office paper in there which is just really crappy paper and it just doesn't look good it doesn't have the clarity didn't have the richness don't have any depth and so the I think the more important investment I have $100 printer let's just say I've got a Canon that is a very low cost printer and it really sings when I have the right paper in there and so what you want to do is look for paper specifically that are designed to be photo papers and they come in different finishes and things like that I you know you can get glossy I actually do not prefer glossy images and I'll show you some in a minute I prefer a matte finish but there's satin finish there's matte finish you you've got to kind of experiment by a couple things and see you know kind of where you want to start and what appeals to your taste and what your work looks the best on this is just a little cheap package of ill furred print Asia premium photo pearl paper okay so it's a pearl paper it's made by a company called Ilford and hillford are well known for their black and white film and photo papers darkroom papers and they do excellent excellent products they also sell inkjet papers but don't be fooled the inkjet will support color just as it does black and white so the black and white only thing is kind of their their analog if you will Department it's not but anyway this is a premium photo pearl finish on here and this is a really good paper this is something that I would recommend this is a small photo size there's a box there's 100 four by six basically prints that I can make on here and I really recommend starting here because this is not gonna cost you a lot of money and you could probably order or go to the store and get two or three different kinds of these to see what the different finishes look like the different qualities of paper and make small prints the really cool thing about you know digital inkjet printing is that there's enormous level of consistency between paper sizes which you don't have with darkroom stuff and I'll get into that in a second but this is a really good way to go is just go get a couple small packages of small paper you know we're not printing exhibitions yet you're learning what papers look like and what your work is going to look the best on then when you get a grasp on it you'll realize that the larger papers especially nice paper it cost more money and so I think at that point you would know what you're looking for and know to how to step up but anyway these will four by sixes are great for that you know paper comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and especially with inkjet printing there's a few more formats that are available with darker and printing there's kind of some set traditional ones and they don't always fit the exact I expect ratio of your camera so you know I've gotten some questions on that before and we'll address that coming up I want to show you another probably my favorite inkjet printer paper which is made by a company called Hana mullah Conor Marilla I'm grossly mispronouncing that so my German friends will will laugh accordingly but anyway this is a excellent excellent excellent paper this is probably my favorite and this one specifically is an HS printer and it has I'll show you what a print looks like on this it almost looks like a page out of a like a really nice book or something it's got a matte finish on it so it doesn't then shine and this is the closest and I'm gonna talk about darkroom papers in a second and the nice dark room papers are what they call fiber based paper and this is the closest cousin I found in the inkjet world and I absolutely adore this paper this isn't the greatest image in the world but you can see that even with a dedicated color printer that I'm praying black and white on the paper makes all the difference in the world and this is an excellent excellent quality paper it looks great when it's framed under glass exhibition style things like that and it comes in a lot of sizes so if you happen to do have a printer that's very large or a lab that you can specify the paper to you can get this paper in those sizes so anyway this is a the sticker on here says this is a photo rag smooth surface and there's also what you see is a GSM and that basically denotes the weight of the paper it's a very heavy weight paper it's like a cover way to paper and that's really important to me for prints I you know I think it's arguable whether you know you have our chi Vil quality or in terms of longevity or something like that but but for me personally I just like to print my work that way out like heavy papers and don't like glossy finish but I like a really fine paper that has a nice tooth to it a good read so anyway that kind of covers just a couple options they're way more than this you can get glossy papers you can get the pearl finish there's satin finish there's all kinds of wonderful things you can get but let me talk about darkroom for a second and with darkroom don't get confused and I should probably do a dedicated so we get more into papers but they're basically two flavors of paper that you can find for darker and papers there and one of them is called resin-coated and the other one is called fiber based so if you're dealing with resin coated fed paper leaves are prints that were made on resin coated paper it's a normal it's a little bit heavier than what you'd find in an office that you'd print out on but it's a lightweight paper relatively speaking has a really nice black and white contrast to it this one's a glossy so you can see it does shine my biggest beef with glossy and this is just a personal opinion so please do not take this as a fact or anything like that but just for what I do especially if you're going to put your prints under glass I think the glossiness just distracts from my prints I feel and so I really don't like to print on I do have glossy paper and I do some work on there but this was of my nephew and watching television anyway this is a glossy paper this is a resin coated paper the resin coated paper is very easy to work with in contrast that these are both a Doc's papers company called a Doc's that makes these this is a different type of a Doc's paper this has got a got a satin finish on so you can see the glare isn't nearly as much as you'd get with a glossy it's got a matte finish actually and anyway it's got a lot of depth to it it's a really great paper again these are darker and prints so these were done with chemicals and enlarger and I really feel like for my own black-and-white work this is what looks best like you can see I have print stuff out bigger for shows before and these are digital prints I gave them a CD with some TIFF files on them they went from there so it just depends on what you're trying to do but anyway this is resin coated paper it's really easy to work with you can see it has a little bit of curl to it I printed these last night so they're dry now but it's got a little bit of curl but it's really easy to flatten if you're framing it contrast to that the other type of darkroom paper is what's known as a fiber based and this is real similar to that honeymoon rag that I was showing you and you can see that this is printed on a fiber based paper it's a much tougher paper Tom this is a nil furred warm tone and this is one of my favorite darkroom papers it's not real cheap so I kind of use it conservatively but you can see that right off the bat that this photo is awfully crinkled and this is one of the problems that you deal with with fiber based papers make getting prints to stay flat there ways to press these you can leave them under some books for a week this is a recent print so I haven't done anything to it other than kind of keep it in a box and a safe place but anyway but what I really like about the fiber based paper is opposed to the resin coated and again this is a very personal opinion and it's just my feeling on it but I really feel like when you're printing on resin-coated papers that the image is just kind of there and then when you're dealing with fiber-based or or like the you know that hana mole that was just showing you it's like almost like you get this 3d you're looking into the image and I know this is a little strange sounding but that's just me but the side effect is is that it curls heavily and so it's a little you need to leave it under some books and try to get it flat and so it's a little more difficult to frame but once you do you can see and we'll do a whole episode on framing too that they look really nice this is a pinhole image there's a large format image that I took of an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture in a museum in sculpture garden and I really loved that the I don't know if it picks up on the video you're probably getting a little glare too but but you know it just has this three-dimensional quality to it you're really looking into the photograph and that's the difference for me in darker papers between now the the resin coated in the fiber based just in the warm tones it's just phenomenal I really am happy with with buying this paper and if I'm gonna be on the ancient side the honey miel works fine color looks really good on the hähnel also but like I said your mileage may vary and you may decide that your work doesn't look good on that that you really like glossy papers and there's nothing wrong with that but finding the paper that's right for you and again like I said just find some smaller papers that you can experiment with if you have a darkroom setup you can do the same thing you can buy the smaller papers you have less consistency from batch to batch with darkroom stuff it's just they're not it's mass producers they used to be and they're starting to become some flaws in the paper and things like that it's not the end of the world it's not terrible but generally if I know a darkroom time for a sheet of paper I will check it when I open a new box just because it may be slightly different and we'll talk about framing – I tend to prefer these these natural wood frames and there's a whole thing I can get into on that as well but I wanted to get you started today if you have an inkjet printer at home by all means start experimenting and experiment the papers make sure you have enough ink in there but don't get caught up in in in in the printer stats like I said I've got a hundred dollar printer it's good enough and I think that's really important so anyway so get experimenting print some of your work and I'll see you next time we'll talk more specifically about presentation stuff like that so once again this has been the art of photography and thank you for watching

38 Replies to “Papers For Printing Photographs”

  1. I found with all in one's , when you run out of certain color that's it. Wasted ink still in cartridge. Printers with 4-5-6 so on , you refill carts when near empty. So yes ink is expensive , but less wasted with more expensive printers for me. Thanks for all your videos.

  2. Wow, 2011… Watchers your recent video yesterday (the one you mentioned your latest adorama print tests and the punk rock zine stuff) and wonder, if we can look forward to an updated video about printers and paper for "blingbling" on the one hand and zines on the other. Thank you for your inspiring work here – for so many years… highly appreciated. Wish you fun in NY with Hugh

  3. Love this episode. You are indeed a great photographer not just because your shots are awesome but because you know your art very well. Subscribed.

  4. 👋🏼👋🏼👋🏼👋🏼 I really appreciated this, even some 7 years out, but have you done a more recent review and tutorial on printing? I realize papers haven’t changed much but I imagine the paper choices and ink/printer quality has changed. Always thankful for your expertise.

  5. Beautifully explained.

    I intended to start printing 6×4 (after shooting hundreds of rolls of film!) simply to test all the papers and then go bigger accordingly

    Was looking for baryta paper and will get some Hahnemuhle fine art stuff into the testing mix!

  6. There are some great deals on eBay for second hand stock that hasn't been opened, not sure if it is from bankruptcies. I just bought 4 boxes of 100 sheets of 8"x10" of unopened mixed types, plus a couple of boxes of smaller sizes and there was also developer and fixer for £26 + £6p&p. One box of the 8×10 is usually over £40. I know there are obvious risks that someone may have opened it or it's too far out of date, but for the price of a takeaway it's worth the risk. I might never need to buy paper again.


    in order to get rid of that curl, you should partial dry your print on a Timer. When the print has firmer up a little bit you're supposed to put the print into a Lintless Photo Blotter Book that has special paper with heavy Book or weights stacked on top of the Blotter Book to continue to absorbing moisture out of the print. Voila! Flat prints!

  8. Shame you didn't explain the difference between the various weights of papers. Something like 120 GSM for Matte finish and 270+ GSM for Glossy prints.

  9. Ted I really enjoy your lecturing vids, they are very informal and I enjoy most your vids. Keep up all the good work, million thumbs up, your always the go to guy for reference. much appreciated

  10. hey Ted! Thx for making these wonderful videos! I just want to ask you, how did you manage to hang those shelves behind you? Where did you get those? I really want to buy them.

  11. I completelly agree with you about glossy or matte papers! Hahnemühle FineArt PhotoRag is my favorite! Thank you for the video!

  12. Thank you very much for making this video! I have always wanted to try to print my photos at home, but thought it is a rocket science.

  13. Decades ago I took a "fine printing" class. The only requirement was graded  double weight fiber paper. I wonder if polycontrast and RC papers have improved over the years. How does inkjet printing compare with those media?

  14. Ted you take the common sense approach to photography, and I thank you. I believe it makes much more sense to print on non glossy paper. My personal experience has been when displaying B&W photo's in glass framing, details of the photo are lost do to double glare.

  15. i guess the best advice for people who print with inkjet printers on their own is that you should make use of individual paper color profiles – not only for printing but also for softproofing in photoshop.

  16. When you factor in the cost of ink, paper and printer amortization it comes out to 4 to 17 time more costly to print at home on an inkjet compared to decent photo lab and the prints you get from a dedicated photo lab are arguably of better quality and longer lasting. So, why print at home at all? What's the rational behind it?

  17. Ted, thank you very much indeed, you're doing amazing job! After watching a couple of episodes I feel like watching all the rest.

  18. The photo guys look at me like I'm a freak when I ask for my 35mm prints to be matte finish. I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I bought heavy satin finish paper for my inkjet and it's absolutely lovely. I can't wait to get into darkroom printing and go for full matte awesomeness. Great videos Ted, I like that you don't get all obsessed about kit 🙂

  19. Very informative! Will you be doin any videos on the enlarging and printing processes? Great videos, thanks!

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