Sunday, 24 February 2008

Artistic choice: paper and profile

As much a part of the photographic process is the choice of paper and the profile to go with it. Many photographers talk about the papers they use, the surface, the gloss etc. It is important, however, to make these choices based on artistic goals rather than technical ones.

What brought on the thinking about papers? I tried a new type today. I'd been having trouble getting hold of my regular paper so tried something that is fairly similar. the new paper is Ilford Gallerie Classic Pearl, but that is not important. What is important is what effect it has on my prints. It is slightly (very slightly) warmer than my previous paper and has a finer surface finish. Ilford also supply a vast number of profiles and happen to support my printer, too. Nice.

Result of the first prints are very good. It yields a more subtle translation of fine detail, which is something I am constantly striving for. The colours are balance - not too saturated and even across the spectrum. More detail is carried in the dark shades with a finer tonal transition, which is something I'm looking for at the moment in black and white. Plus black and white is actually more neutral, balanced nicely by the slighter warmer paper tone. Overall it is very much meeting my needs at present with this printer which is great.

The point is, this paper much better suits the aims I have for my prints. even with only 2 or 3 off the press, I find the results much more in line with my aspirations. That is what counts.

Of course, I'm hankering after a decent, larger, pigment printer but that will have to come later.


  1. Oh dear, you will end up with another printer of course! Seriously though, you are right in what you say, but it is good to get familiar with a paper. Before you settle on Pearl just try the Ilford FB gloss, it really is something else. I went through an R1800, quad inks in an 1170, Quadtone RIP before I got the R2400. Tried so many papers too. Custom profiles make by far the biggest difference though and I now just print B&W though a colour profile. I don't ever think about the printer any longer, just turn it on and use it. Profiles have freed me up to just make images.

  2. I presume you mean the "Harman Photo Professional Inkjet - Matt FB Mp" paper. The Pearl is good as an everyday paper. I've yet to investigate what I'd call a "presentation paper".
    I always reckoned I'd end up with a better printer which is why I started with a fairly cheap one - get to grips with what I wanted to do before the big money.
    I know what you mean about profiles - I profiled my other papers myself and that eliminated all the printer issues, then I just had to make the photos right.

  3. Sorry, yes I did mean the Harman. It's all very seductive though, I have wasted far too much time messing around with papers and other stuff rather than making pictures. I have really rationalised my approach now. I never knew what I wasn't able to print before I got proper profiles (Permajet's free service). I was so impressed that I got my own Printfix Pro.


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