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Author Topic: Thoughts on Reflections on Recent Digital Paper Of  (Read 6761 times)
beamstream
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« on: September 05, 2006, 01:21:53 AM »
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Hello all,
I´m a professional "fine art print mounter" in Germany. Yesterday a customer showed  a sample of hahnemühle fine art pearl to me and, having expected the look of traditional gelatine prints, I was rather disapointed with it. In my own Printwork i got the best results using archival mat paper or hahnemüle photorag on a epson 9700 and then aplying a glossy varnish (Lascaux UV1).This provides real gelatine print optic. It is very laborous and timeconsuming but delivers top quality surface, zero glossdifferential, excellent surface protection and rich dark saturated blacks. Above all this it is regarded by many experts as beeing archival.

PS. The varnishing is done by a professional with air gun equipment.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2006, 06:54:40 AM »
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My take on that essay is that you could essentially apply his conclusion to the entire digital juggernaut...
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dbell
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2006, 08:46:04 AM »
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My take on that essay is that you could essentially apply his conclusion to the entire digital juggernaut...
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In general, I agree with you. Digital prints and analog prints are not the same thing nor are digitally-captured pixels and grains in an emulsion.

However, I also agree with some of the  author's points. The various vendors DO go beyond what I find acceptable in terms of hype. I was fairly disappointed with certain aspects of the Fibaprint paper (it does NOT look to me like an F-type surface and I have consistent problems with pizza-wheel marking on my Epson 2400) and Silver Rag does NOT look to me like a "traditional air-dried fiber print" (as the web site claims). It's more like a very fine-toothed lustre finish on a heavyweight rag paper.  There's nothing wrong with what the paper IS, but it doesn't, IMO, live up to its advertising.

Real advances are slow in coming. IMO, the K3 inkset was one of them. Maybe the next one will give us a matte black ink with performance characteristics closer to what's possible on matte papers in the analog world. The current crop of fibre-based papers are an incremental advance, and there's nothing wrong with acknowledging them as such. If we want to send a message to the vendors that they shoud rein in the hype a little (and stay focused on real progress), I couldn't agree more.


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Pete JF
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2006, 10:53:43 AM »
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I agree with POM completely. The entire digital realm is stacked with hype. I still shoot film and scan. Waiting for that truly subtle gloss surface that doesn't draw attention to itself.

The paper issues that the author noted are spot on as far as these three papers not hitting the mark in terms of their surfaces.

This hype issue is present everywhere in the industry and Im fairly weary of it all, so is my wallet.

Been printing on the Innova under the Lexjet tag of Sunset Air Dried Gloss and im having problems on my 4800 with roller marks...though the rep suggested it could actually be suction marks...getting a bit tired of the surface texture. At first, I was excited about being able to print with PK on a toned down gloss surface but from the get go, I knew this paper wasn't "it" in terms of surface. Yeah, good incremental beginning but Im tired of the increments.

These guys need to get down to business and hire some folks who really understand what an elegant, subtle surface is. It seems like they haven't really studied these papers enough. I've finally seen the Pearl surafce from Hanne and also feel that it is pretty close...

Restless consumers we are and the industry seems to have almost everyone by the ankles. there is definite amnesia going on here and I think it comes from some sort of modern laziness. Please don't anyone be offended by that.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2006, 01:12:53 PM »
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I had started a thread on this topic yesterday, but somehow the "Add Topic" added a sub-replication of the Site & Board Matters category and therefore it does not appear in this string. That sub-category does not open when one enters this Forum, therefore it was seen by only one other person (Eleanor Brown). To keep the whole discussion in one place readily visible to everyone, I am replicating below the contributions that both Eleanor and I made yesterday.

Here is mine:

<<<I don't have Mr. Lohmann's professional pedigree in photography, but I have been printing photographs since the 1950s, so I remember the gelatin/fibre based days very well - indeed still have the prints. (Old time hypo and clearing agent really did a good preservation job in those days). And I remember well the quality of the gallery prints that the traditional giants of photography produced with those papers.

Yet I have two problems with this article: (1) it focuses on Black and White images, whereas these new papers are probably being formulated primarily for colour because that is the predominant use they will have, and (2) it raises an unexplored fundamental question about whether the standard of quality should depend on what we had before, or on some other objective reality.

Admitting that these papers should be equally suitable for B&W, based on the best B&W digital printing I've seen on exhibit, I'm far from convinced that in the right hands today's best inkjet prints are so inferior to the best of yester-year. This is based on what I subjectively and intuitively perceive in terms of dynamic range, quality of black, sharpness, quality of tonal gradation, etc. - the one-second intuitive reaction to what's real and what's fake that Mr. Lohmann so knowingly describes here.

Turning to colour, I've made some colour prints on Innova FibaPrint Gloss Type F and unless I'm fooling myself I believe they are high quality products per se. They don't shine (because of the surface, whether we want to call it naugahyde or not), they have great dynamic range (good shadow detail) and the luminance of the colour is outstanding. I just look at them in their own right for what they are - and by the way, I selected the images I used for testing this paper very deliberately, because another factor about using papers (unstated in this article) is that different papers are better suited to different images.

Progress being what it is, we shouldn't doubt that in the future we'll have yet better papers compared with what we have now, but I just find myself a bit less apocalyptic about the present range of choices now on the market. If that means my taste in photographic paper is under-educated, so be it (but then again perhaps it may not be.......hmmm). >>>


And here is Eleanor's:

<<<I printed for years in the darkroom--both black and white and color on film ranging from 35mm to 4X5. These days my shooting and printing is entirely digital and one of my primary papers is Crane Silver Rag for both monotone and color images. I use the Epson K3 inks with Imageprint RIP. Many times I will spray my prints with PremierArt spray. I was a beta tester for the Silver Rag and liked it very much. I've also printed on the Hahnemuhnle and Innova offerings and while I keep a supply of the Innova F type gloss on hand, I find myself printing on the Silver Rag more than anything else. It is a lovely paper and makes stunning prints in my opinion. Eleanor >>>
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2006, 04:31:22 PM »
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What it boils down to IMHO is that each of us has to decide for him or herself whether we can stand or even like the newly available papers. I know I'm prejudiced in favor of the traditional fibre-based darkroom print (F- surface, air dried), as I was happy with that for many years. Before I went digital, I never did color, and I could never stand the black-and-white RC papers.

But when I started printing digitally, the issue of gloss differential quickly made me switch to matte papers. Looking back, I'm astnished at how quickly I've gotten used to the look of digital prints on matte papers, even with the lowered D-max. So even if the Holy Grail of the silver-gelatin look isn't there yet, I think I'll try some of these new papers just to see if I like them better than what I'm doing now.

Looking at all the discussions these new papers have inspired, I get the impression that most photographers who do not have darkroom experience are finding the new papers pretty nice; many photographers with darkroom experience are unhappy with them; and some, like Eleanor, are able to shift their way of thinking and working to embrace the new papers.
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Pete JF
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2006, 07:55:39 PM »
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IMO, the surface Im looking for does not draw attention to itself. I find that silver rag is extremely noticable, Innova, less so, but still there. Pearl...seen it, haven't tried it...looks pretty bright and has a fairly subtle surface.

One of the primary reasons photographers shifted to matte papers was so they wouldn't have to deal with the problems that gloss papers present...also, with only high gloss, rc types of papers available, there was no other option for discerning printmakers except uncoated stock, at least, for fine art printing. The shift to matte paper represents a strong comment on issues regarding surface textures etc.

The discussion regarding the direction of the development of these surfaces is a valid one and needs to be expressed. The paper maufacturers pick up on this talk and this first generation of fiber base, gloss papers is just that..the first round. The laurels here are to thin to rest on.

The argument that this is a new or different medium holds water to a point, after all, we are using ink here. I don't think shooting for an elegant, subtle texture on gloss paper, that is reminiscent of a long held photographic standard is wrong or misguided. It's an excellent reference point and goal.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2006, 09:00:52 PM »
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I've long held the belief and stated it in here, that the fine art switch to matt has been for reasons of the inadequacy of the available media.  Mark makes the point that different images require different media, and I agree and would expand on the statement, that the media be chosen to express the final intent.  Oil on canvas or watercolour on cartridge paper - neither more valid than the other, very different output intent.

My gripe is that if we have an output intent that is for a wide dynamic range with good contrast and 'punch' (applies equally to B&W or colour), then our media options are limited, and we have to contend with other unwanted side-effects of the technology such as gloss differential and bronzing.  Richard Lohmann talks eloquently about the desire for a passive surface, and that for me expresses the requirement very well indeed.

Like Mr Lohman I could see that the new papers I tried (Innova and Crane, not tried HFAP yet) handled the inks well and had good DR, but I couldn't see past the surfaces. I really don't like them.

Maybe I am a grumpy old sod but I don't want to output to a piece of plastic - I want something that looks and feels more organic, and doesn't dominate or interfere with the image.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2006, 09:26:47 PM »
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I've been making and printing photographs on and off over a period of about 50+ years, and maybe I've led a sheltered existence, but this is truly the first time I see all this pre-occupation about whether the paper is "passive" enough or draws attention to itself, as if that were a "bad thing". Let's think about it from another perspective: the paper texture is part and parcel of the print. Paper texture has been part and parcel of other graphic arts from the get-go. The look and feel of a real lithograph is different from that of a gravura deliberately. Paper texture is part and parcel of the fine art books and "livres d'artistes" we collect - for those of us who do that. For decades in photography photographers have been selecting different surfaces from high gloss through semi-gloss, through luster, through egg shell, through velvet-stipple, through matte to canvas because the paper is part of the total effect of the photograph - why put the effort into paper choice otherwise? It is meant to be seen as part of the artwork. It isn't meant to be "passive". Maybe it seems passive because artists of photography appropriately blend the atmosphere of the image with the feel of the paper most suited to it. So I guess where I land on this issue is that I simply reject the notion of the paper being passive. It's active. And if we accept that it's active, then the issue is whether the inkjet papers we have do justice to our images, and by what standards we should assess that.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 09:27:49 PM by MarkDS » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2006, 11:11:49 PM »
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Now on this site I'm sure digital has been said to be better than film due to lack of grain. Personally I loathe this aspect of digital, the lack of texture doesn't do much for me. Film lack of passiveness is part of it's appeal for me. I've chosen film and developer combinations than enhance it activeness. Other, such as my girlfriend prefer the smooth grain free look of digital. The same thing will apply to papers, some people will like the naugahyde look, some won't.
The danger in articles such as this is that the author can put forward subjective views as if they were truely objective - the look of cotton rag is better than silver rag, is a purely subjective view and as mentioned above it also depends on the image, Just as B+W is more suited than colour for some pictures.
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Pete JF
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2006, 11:44:47 PM »
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Mark, for the most part you are correct. However, in the given situation, these paper makers are attempting to achieve an imitation of a particular quality that has been a standard for quite some time. They market these papers based on this so called "F" quality and the consumers, as a result of this marketing, hype...whatever one chooses to call it, have a specific, logical expectation.

People spend a good chunk of change on these new products only to discover that these surfaces aren't what they are advertised to be.

There are a miriad of experiences from photographer to photographer depending what their fav paper happened to be. I became a fan of graded Ilford Galerie...started as a youth on brovira, little bit o agfa portriga rapid in the gloss surface when it was called for, kodabromide and some of the other kodak offerings. Later, got into split contrast printing on a cold light head using several of the variable contrast papers available..whatever. Most of these surfaces were fairly subtle and very similar to each other in a general, family kind of way. Most folks liked that air dried, gelatinous gloss. It came to be the standard, or, a standard because it was appropriate and relevant. It just looked great and understated.

You didn't see a lot of black and white work being shown on matte, stipple, pearl, or whatever other names manufacturers of traditional chemical papers were using to describe their surface variations. Sure, the exception was there but, by and large, the air dried gloss was much more accepted as the rule.

I am generally excited about the actual image quality (tone, d-max. brightness, weight  and etc.) on these new papers. The silver rag looks great when you can't pick up the texture, so does the Innova. I just dont like the texture and, apparently, a lot of other people feel the same way.

It is exactly what you are talking about...printmakers are sensitive to the surface...tooth can be nice and relevant. Sometimes, and particularily on papers that are glossy, tooth/to much texture is undesirable because it really has not much to do with what those particular users of the paper are trying to achieve. You might be able to tell, Im not a fan of textured gloss papers, not at all. Tooth seems to be much more important when printing on matte papers, it is a textural realm and can be very nice.

When I hear this argument, that digital is not the same, that inkjet printing is different than traditional forms and people need to get used to it...and...I hear that argument applied to this discussion about paper surfaces that are trying to imitate an old photographic favorite..it makes me wonder why folks are so quick to argue against imitative paper surfaces so quickly and stubbornly. This surface has very obvious merits and people like it for concrete and understandable reasons. For the record, I don't believe nostalgia has much to do with it. I feel that it has much more to do with the fact that it is an appropriate surface for many types of imaging, in particular, black and white printing.  There are a whole lot of folks that feel that way about it. Sure there are some artists that have presented their work on stippled paper, pearly paper. Whatever the variation, the bulk of serious, exhibited photographers (traditional) chose that air dried, gloss surface. The manufacturers recognize this and are trying to provide this product because folks are making the most noise about this ideal.

I see no reason to argue against the attempt to try to make that surface available to digital printers. What exactly is the point? Shouldn't it be the more the merrier? There is a large block of photgraphers who want this. I say give it to 'em the way they want it..rock and roll. And, if a bunch of folks want velvet stipple on canvass with a touch of rocky road...bring it on.


Those with no tradtional darkroom or chemical photo experience are enjoying the first glimpses of  this type of paper. I have to believe that if the products were studied and refined...they might realize what the hell these F surface paper zealots are bleeding about.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2006, 10:48:31 AM by Pete JF » Logged
Pete JF
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2006, 11:56:13 PM »
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JJJ,

I don't think there is any "danger" in what the author wrote. He spoke the truth. These papers are marketed as something that they are not, period. Therein lies the danger, if you want to call it that. Sorta maybe close, but no cigar in this case.

The closest thing I've seen to an air dried gloss paper was the, now discontinued, Epson professional gloss proofing paper. A very unstable and, according to an Epson employee I have bothered extensively, difficult to manufacture paper. It would yellow in weeks, but it had a great surface...very close to what the bleeders, such as myself, are bleeding about.

To give the manufacturers the benefit of the doubt, I strongly suspect that there might be some sort of technical limitation that is preventing them from creating a smoother surface. Maybe time will tell. The author mentioned that, in the case of Silver Rag from Crane, they monkeyed with adding texture to reduce gloss differential or bronzing? ...something like that.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 11:59:47 PM by Pete JF » Logged
pobrien3
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2006, 06:04:51 AM »
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In a purist, academic sense I would agree with Mark.  However, I would contend that the vast majority of us do the vast majority of our printing on a very small variety of papers; most of us on just one or two.  We don't usually trawl the entire market gamut of different paper textures or surfaces for every print.  As Pete put it so well, those of us who put in our apprenticeships in the darkroom had a small number of favourite papers, for reasons of their ability to show our image at its best.

I would further contend that most of us don't want special sci-fi effects on the surface of our prints - we want our lovingly-crafted photograph to be presented at its best without the distraction of weird surface patterns.  This is a personal opinion, but I bet many share it - I don't want stipples, nodules, scratches, microdots, alligator skin, etc distracting the viewer.  For that matter, I prefer not to have a mirror-finish either.  I'm not petitioning for the removal of these special-effects papers - for those who want to use 'em, fill your boots - I'm saying 'don't tell me you've created a paper which emulates a standard, then deliver something else'.

Paper manufacturers are now openly and directly comparing the texture and feel of their products with the chemical benchmarks (even the naming is intended to convey this), claiming they match or better them.  This is utterly and patently not true, and this is what annoys me as I've spent time, money and effort tracking these papers down so I could try them on the base of these claims and reviews.

Blind Photographer, I still haven't tried HFAP as it's still in the post to me - I can't buy this stuff in Hong Kong, and US dealers generally won't ship to Asia.  My boxes of Innova and Crane arrived at the weekend, and I finished 14 sheets of each in my tests yesterday.  I suspect that like me, others have had some difficulty sourcing this stuff.

For the record, these papers DO perform well - they are however NOT what the manufacturers say they are.
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Blind Photographer
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2006, 07:17:01 AM »
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Blind Photographer, I still haven't tried HFAP as it's still in the post to me - I can't buy this stuff in Hong Kong, and US dealers generally won't ship to Asia.  My boxes of Innova and Crane arrived at the weekend, and I finished 14 sheets of each in my tests yesterday.  I suspect that like me, others have had some difficulty sourcing this stuff.

For the record, these papers DO perform well - they are however NOT what the manufacturers say they are.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75665\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I read and responded to the other thread before realizing there was more written here.  I like what's being said overall and I've edited my earlier post.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2006, 07:35:18 AM »
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It just baffles me that you and others bring so much emotion to arguing against this pursuit. What exactly is the point? Shouldn't it be the more the merrier? [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75646\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The reason why you're baffled is that the argument is not an emotional one - it is based on facts and reasoning. And the argument is not against a pursuit of bringing on more and better papers including those that replicate old favorites from the previous mainstream technology - I agree - the more the merrier - especially if they are satisfying.  As for manufacturers' hype - what else is new and why care - as intelligent people we can simply ignore it and see the materials for what they are - not for what someone else pretends they may be.
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2006, 09:34:38 AM »
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Which inkjet paper most closely simulates daguerreotype?
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Pete JF
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2006, 10:25:42 AM »
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Mark,

indeed, forgive me for injecting emotion into your argument...it was me, up late and tired and fighting with some roller marks on some prints. I must have confused one mark for another in directing my blows : )

As for your statement regarding the manufacturers' hype "what else is new and why care"

I and many others care because there are dollars being spent over and over by people who are being stick and carrot'd to frustration with promises of the end or beginning of this or that. I would like to settle into a couple of reliable papers, printers and print quality, cameras...everything, just so i can keep a workflow and concentrate on making images. I'm spending to much time riding repetitive learning curves.

The sudden discussion of a paper being "passive", in this case, a gloss paper..it's because it hasn't been available to those that want it, the subtle gloss form. I wouldn't say that this surface was passive...I might say that about a paper like Enhanced Matte...not the one these companies are shooting for.

Plenty of Matte surfaces out there, plenty of high gloss, luster(stipply), semi matte coated papers. Nothing in a fiber base smooth gloss. That is the reason for all the discussion, in this case, frustrated discussion.
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2006, 01:20:04 PM »
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Mark,

indeed, forgive me for injecting emotion into your argument...it was me, up late and tired and fighting with some roller marks on some prints. I must have confused one mark for another in directing my blows : )

As for your statement regarding the manufacturers' hype "what else is new and why care"

I and many others care because there are dollars being spent over and over by people who are being stick and carrot'd to frustration with promises of the end or beginning of this or that. I would like to settle into a couple of reliable papers, printers and print quality, cameras...everything, just so i can keep a workflow and concentrate on making images. I'm spending to much time riding repetitive learning curves.

The sudden discussion of a paper being "passive", in this case, a gloss paper..it's because it hasn't been available to those that want it, the subtle gloss form. I wouldn't say that this surface was passive...I might say that about a paper like Enhanced Matte...not the one these companies are shooting for.

Plenty of Matte surfaces out there, plenty of high gloss, luster(stipply), semi matte coated papers. Nothing in a fiber base smooth gloss. That is the reason for all the discussion, in this case, frustrated discussion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75684\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi Pete,

No problem - understood.

Digital imaging technology is still growing in high gear - every aspect of it, so we're going to be bombarded with all kinds of stuff, we'll need to evaluate it ourselves, take some risks financially - of which trying a package of paper is likely to be the smallest of the lot - and the learning curve keeps moving out while we keep moving down it. I think all that is inevitable for some time to come. And sooner or later there will be a new fibre-based smooth gloss that many people will fall in love with. If there's a market for it, just a matter of time!
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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2006, 02:40:27 PM »
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JJJ,

I don't think there is any "danger" in what the author wrote. He spoke the truth. These papers are marketed as something that they are not, period. Therein lies the danger, if you want to call it that. Sorta maybe close, but no cigar in this case.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75648\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
oops I was a tad tired when I did the post and the last paragraph is missing which qualified my comment with something like

The danger in articles such as this is that the author can put forward subjective views as if they were truely objective - the look of cotton rag is better than silver rag, is a purely subjective view and as mentioned above it also depends on the image, Just as B+W is more suited than colour for some pictures.However if these new papers puport to be something they are patently not, then they deserve to be tken to task.

Whether a paper is actually better/worse is however still subjective.
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« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2006, 03:13:28 PM »
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Mark,

indeed, forgive me for injecting emotion into your argument...it was me, up late and tired and fighting with some roller marks on some prints. I must have confused one mark for another in directing my blows : )

As for your statement regarding the manufacturers' hype "what else is new and why care"

I and many others care because there are dollars being spent over and over by people who are being stick and carrot'd to frustration with promises of the end or beginning of this or that. I would like to settle into a couple of reliable papers, printers and print quality, cameras...everything, just so i can keep a workflow and concentrate on making images. I'm spending to much time riding repetitive learning curves.

The sudden discussion of a paper being "passive", in this case, a gloss paper..it's because it hasn't been available to those that want it, the subtle gloss form. I wouldn't say that this surface was passive...I might say that about a paper like Enhanced Matte...not the one these companies are shooting for.

Plenty of Matte surfaces out there, plenty of high gloss, luster(stipply), semi matte coated papers. Nothing in a fiber base smooth gloss. That is the reason for all the discussion, in this case, frustrated discussion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75684\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Have you tried Oriental FB Glossy? it might be more to your liking? - Marc
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