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Looking at paper finish

From: Inkjet Printing for Photographers

Video: Looking at paper finish

If you've ever dropped prints off of the photo lab, then you're already familiar with the idea of different paper finishes, though you've probably only ever had to choose between two, matte and glossy. You still have those same options when you're choosing an inkjet paper, but you've got a lot of variations, and you have some additional finish choices besides just matte and glossy. Glossy papers, of course, have a shiny surface that creates super saturated colors, while matte papers have a non-reflective surface that tends to yield colors that appear less saturated and perhaps blacks that appear less black.

Looking at paper finish

If you've ever dropped prints off of the photo lab, then you're already familiar with the idea of different paper finishes, though you've probably only ever had to choose between two, matte and glossy. You still have those same options when you're choosing an inkjet paper, but you've got a lot of variations, and you have some additional finish choices besides just matte and glossy. Glossy papers, of course, have a shiny surface that creates super saturated colors, while matte papers have a non-reflective surface that tends to yield colors that appear less saturated and perhaps blacks that appear less black.

You also might find variations in gloss. For example, a semi-gloss or a luster paper will have a little bit of shine to it, but not that full-on glare that you get from a full-on gloss paper. Now, a lot of people are drawn to glossy papers because they produce such deep blacks and supersaturated colors. However, I often find that the blacks on glossy paper actually looks less black than a quality matte because of that gloss layer. And in many lighting situations, gloss can create glare that impacts your perception of both color saturation and black.

Personally, I find that, that gloss layer that's on there kind of creates an extra layer between me, and the image, and it greatly complicates the display of the image. So, I stick with matte paper for my serious fine artwork. If you would like to split the difference of glossy look without all the gloss, then you'll want to consider the various luster options that are available. Sometimes these are labeled semi-gloss. Within matte papers, you'll find two different categories, smooth and natural. Smooth papers are just what they say they are, paper with a completely smooth surface, natural papers will have a textured finish, and the amount of texture can vary from just slightly visible grain to extremely textured.

Textured papers are tricky, though, because for one thing they look nothing like traditional photographic paper, and also because if light hits them at an angle, the texture of the paper can create shadows on the image itself, and those shadows can be distracting. Textured papers are great if you have an image that's served well by a fine art look, but you probably won't want to use a textured paper for everyday work. As much as I love matte papers for their contrast and their color and their lack of glare, a lot of people find them disappointing because they don't look and feel like what they think printed photos are supposed to look like.

The prints you get from a photo lab or the drugstore are typically on thicker paper and they possibly have a very smooth glossy finish or a slightly pebbled finish. You will get a pebbled finish from luster papers, and a smooth glossy finish from glossy paper. If you're used to working in a darkroom, then you're probably accustomed to a fiber-based paper that has a particular heft and finish, and there are now several vendors that produce such a paper for inkjet printers. Epson Exhibition Fiber, Ilford Fibre Gold Silk, Harman, Gloss Baryta by Hahnemuhle, and Museo Silver Rag all give you that authentic fiber-based look and feel that you used to have in the darkroom.

And of course, unlike real darkroom paper, you don't need different papers for color and black and white printing. Alternately, there is canvas. Now, a lot of people are surprised by the idea of printing on canvas, and I think that's because they think, the first thing they think of when they think of canvas as some kind of material that you might make a tent out of. When actually what we're talking about is the kind of canvas that you would stretch on a frame and then paint on. Inkjet canvas has a slightly textured surface, but what's great about it is that when it's time to display, you don't put glass in front of it. And without glass, there's nothing to block the colors and contrast in the image, so very often the image just really seems to leap across the room.

Expect to do a little experimentation to zero in on the types of finishes that you like for different occasions. In general, it's best to just work with a few papers at a time until you really learn them. Then you can feel free to branch out if you want to try something new.

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This video is part of

Image for Inkjet Printing for Photographers
Inkjet Printing for Photographers

68 video lessons · 13342 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 9m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 50s
    2. Exploring why we print
      4m 3s
    3. Understanding what you need for this course
      3m 25s
  2. 13m 29s
    1. Why inkjet printing?
      4m 36s
    2. Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment
      4m 26s
    3. Discussing considerations for black and white
      1m 48s
    4. Reviewing the features
      2m 39s
  3. 1h 1m
    1. Printing and your workflow
      3m 3s
    2. Printing black-and-white photos
      6m 49s
    3. Understanding the histogram
      7m 37s
    4. Understanding what localized adjustments are used for
      2m 38s
    5. Explaining the histogram with a practical example
      6m 51s
    6. Making a localized adjustment in a practical example
      5m 30s
    7. Evaluating a localized adjustment in a practical example
      2m 29s
    8. Refining a localized adjustment for effect
      13m 36s
    9. Making a gradient adjustment
      6m 47s
    10. Paying attention to viewing conditions
      4m 49s
    11. Summing up
      1m 50s
  4. 54m 36s
    1. Understanding pixels, printer dots, and resolution
      2m 44s
    2. Understanding resolution
      2m 33s
    3. Defining resampling and interpolation
      3m 41s
    4. Understanding where resizing fits into your workflow
      2m 12s
    5. Defining native printer resolution
      2m 39s
    6. Understanding the relationship between viewing distance and print size
      2m 1s
    7. Reducing image size in Photoshop
      9m 11s
    8. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using Canvas Size
      4m 34s
    9. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using the Crop tool
      5m 15s
    10. Enlarging an image in Photoshop
      7m 7s
    11. Creating a triptych
      3m 55s
    12. Creating a triptych using Automator on a Mac
      4m 5s
    13. Exploring the aesthetics of print size
      4m 39s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding how sharpening works
      3m 18s
    2. Sharpening in JPEG mode
      1m 26s
    3. Exploring sharpening workflows
      3m 47s
    4. Sharpening in Camera Raw
      6m 17s
    5. Looking at noise reduction
      1m 46s
    6. Sharpening output with Smart Sharpen
      11m 52s
    7. Understanding selective sharpening
      4m 25s
    8. Sharpening through an edge mask
      7m 17s
    9. Reviewing high-pass sharpening
      4m 30s
    10. Applying aggressive sharpening
      8m 53s
    11. Exploring advanced sharpening techniques
      9m 7s
    12. Exploring the Print dialog
      11m 35s
    13. Proofing at smaller sizes
      3m 3s
  6. 53m 9s
    1. Exploring how color works
      2m 5s
    2. Reviewing color models
      2m 56s
    3. Defining gamut and color space
      9m 55s
    4. Reviewing when colors go out of gamut
      4m 54s
    5. Configuring Photoshop's color settings
      5m 47s
    6. Changing color space in Camera Raw
      4m 7s
    7. Working in an advanced color space
      6m 13s
    8. Assigning a color space in Photoshop
      2m 20s
    9. Correcting a color image
      9m 17s
    10. Printing a color image
      3m 30s
    11. Evaluating the print
      2m 5s
  7. 34m 46s
    1. What is color management?
      4m 16s
    2. Profiling a monitor
      8m 45s
    3. Evaluating a monitor profile
      4m 37s
    4. Exploring paper profiles
      5m 17s
    5. Understanding soft proofing
      11m 51s
  8. 24m 33s
    1. Understanding how paper quality affects the appearance of black in prints
      3m 26s
    2. Looking at third-party papers
      3m 46s
    3. Looking at paper finish
      3m 44s
    4. Understanding paper traits
      6m 31s
    5. Discussing paper choice and presentation
      7m 6s
  9. 23m 18s
    1. Printing a black-and-white image
      11m 45s
    2. Printing a color image
      11m 33s
  10. 1m 16s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 16s

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