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Author Topic: All About Paper  (Read 2415 times)
Adam L
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« on: July 08, 2010, 12:55:59 PM »
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I'm really enjoying my new Epson 3880 printer but I can't help but feel that I'm not taking advantage of all it offers.    I've only used the cheapest of bulk photography paper - Epson Glossy.

I have reviewed different vendors, read about everything I can find - which isn't much - and yet feel lost trying to understand the differences between paper types, let alone knowing which will work best for me.   I don't understand the trade-offs in thickness of paper, gamut, ICC profiles, texture.  What is Rag?  When should I use matt (for me it's been never) vs Glossy?  Luster...sounds like it could be in between the two?

As you can tell, I need help.   I don't even know where to begin.   I'll take any advice you can offer.

Thank you!
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BobFisher
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 03:24:28 PM »
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I did a blog post recently about selecting the paper to go with the image.  It may be of interest, it may not.

Some very simple ideas to get you started.

In general, the thicker or heavier the paper, the better the quality.  Very thin, lightweight papers like Epson Watercolor Radiant White (it's neither radiant nor white) are relatively low quality papers that, generally, aren't archival or at least not as archival as the heavier papers.  Thicker papers are more expensive.  Some will say that a thicker paper will give more depth to a print in terms of colour and highlight/shadow detail.  

Rag should be used as a reference to what the paper is made of.  True rag paper is made of 100% cotton fibers, rather than from wood pulp.

ICC profiles are little bits of code that tell a printer, in this case, how to lay down ink on the paper to ensure colours are accurate.  The ICC profile directs the printer to lay down ink to compensate for things like colour in the paper that may alter the colour of the ink, the amount the ink dots spread and mix on the paper and so forth.  ICC profiles are used as part of a colour managed editing workflow.  Colour management is a whole wide world unto its own that can't really be summarised in a couple sentences.

Texture is simply that, whether or not the paper is smooth or textured.  Some papers have a noticeable pebbling, others are very smooth.  Think of a true painter's watercolour paper.  Often these have a very strong texture.  

Gamut is the breath of colour (or greyscale) that a paper can produce.  In general, matte papers have a narrower gamut than glossier or coated papers.  Glossier papers tend to be able to produce a deeper black (DMax) which can give them a wider gamut for black and white prints.  Glossier papers, in general, can reproduce more vibrant colours than matte papers.
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 04:15:30 PM »
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First, the best thing to do may be to grab some paper samples (cf. InkJetArt or other vendors) to see for yourself.

In the meantime, you'd benefit much to learn the basics of color managed printing - see eg just here, or for more depth this book or this video tutorial.

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Nicolas from Grenoble
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tokengirl
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2010, 12:43:57 PM »
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Most paper vendors have sampler packs that contain an assortment of their different papers.  This is a great way to get a little hands-on experience with different papers without breaking the bank.
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Adam L
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2010, 01:38:08 PM »
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Hi, thanks everyone for this advice.   I am getting paper samples as recommended.   I loved your blog post Bob, well written and informative.  I've bookmarked it as there seems to be plenty of info to keep me busy for a while.

In a companion thread there was another blog post:  http://www.danecreekfolios.com/blog/    in here there is an excel spreadsheet that lists many of the attributes of different styles of paper which was also of great benefit to me.  Thank you to Dane Creek Folios too!

Niko, excellent resources as well.  I have the camera to print video but haven't watched it in years, it's time for a refresher.  

I'm feeling pretty good with the color management process but that could be due to some slight color blindness.  Having only used Epson paper on the Epson printer, this may not hold true when I switch brands.   I need to learn how to apply an ICC profile (I could use help here    )   I'm curious if this profile could also be sent to my monitor (NEC PA241) or if there is a method to calibrate this to match the paper?

I have given myself a goal of creating a 13x19 portfolio and have landed on this website:  http://www.booksmartstudio.com/store/libro...pe-exposed-post    This URL takes you to 22 different products - really 22 different paper types for the same portfolio.   Which of these choices would you make if the images contained pictures of Boston?

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NikoJorj
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2010, 12:06:32 PM »
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Quote from: Adam L
I need to learn how to apply an ICC profile (I could use help here    )   I'm curious if this profile could also be sent to my monitor (NEC PA241) or if there is a method to calibrate this to match the paper?
To print using ICC profile, see chapters 15-18 depending on the software you use, and to simulate (to some extent) the output on your calibrated monitor see chapter 14 (softproofing) of the camera to print tutorial.


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Which of these choices would you make if the images contained pictures of Boston?
It depends more on your style than on subject content... It's quite hard to go beyond "see you like best" in that matter.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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BobFisher
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2010, 02:25:37 PM »
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I've got a colour management primer on my website in the Tutorials section.  It's just that, a primer and not intended to be an in depth discussion but it might get you started.  From the Tutorials page, click on Colour Management 101.
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