About Printing on Metallic Paper

Last night at the Photography meet-up I belong to we did something a little different than what we normally do and that is have a somewhat informal photo critique. We mainly looked over photos displayed via a projector and laptop so unfortunately appreciating some of the range of tones and details was difficult. Afterwards a few members showed off some prints. Being a printer I sort of wished we had spent more time on that but after our meeting we stood around talking about the quality of some of the prints. One of the members had recently ordered some of his on the metallic paper we offer. Because of the subject matter, they were real winners and quite stunning. Another member who was really impressed with the quality of the prints asked me to look at some images on his ipad and tell him what he though would look good on the metallic paper. After that I thought would be a good idea to share with you some of the things which I have noticed best utilizes the properties of such a fine paper.

Images with a lot of details. Sometimes papers which are not as high a gamut are not able to show as many details due to limitations in how many shades or tones you can get out of them. For instance, while our matte art paper is one of the favorites with artists it is simply not capable of showing the same range of darks and gloss surface can. The metallic paper can do this. If you have an image with a lot of small details and you want to make sure those details are visible, something like the metallic will be ideal.

Black and Whites. While not all black and whites are created equal one of the areas that photographers who are into black and white prints are concerned about is the ability to show the largest range of shades between black and white. When dealing with a high gamut paper like the metallic, you pretty much are going to get the most our of your black and whites. There might be some specialized labs that can spend a lot of time tweaking and adjusting each image to get the most out of the black and grays but in my opinion they will still have trouble coming close to what we can get out of the metallic papers.

Images with metal in the subject matter. If you want to really show the properties of a metal object, whether it be the chrome on a fancy car or a still life subject containing other items of metal, no other paper is really going to make those as pronounced as the metallic paper. Of course it is more of an optical illusion but the surface of the paper really enhances those items of metal so there is no doubt the item photographed is made of metal.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography. What really attracts people to HDR is the ability to show as many details in the image which a single exposure just cannot get. If you know anything about printing, a print will not be able to display anywhere as many colors as your computer screen can and probably never will be able to. But if you want to display as many details of your HDR as possible, the metallic paper is one way to go. Being such a high gamut paper and capable of showing a wider range of tones is the primary reason to use the metallic paper for your HDR images.

Stonework. Last but not least and perhaps one of my favorites is stonework. Here is San Antonio, we have several old Spanish missions with the most popular being the Alamo. The stonework on some of these is amazing and what better way to show these details. We have done some prints of several missions for a handful of photographers who printed these as black and whites. The metallic paper made the stonework really stand out so you would think you could actually feel the texture if you touched the print. And not just black and white works. One of the photographers did a print of an aged door in color. Some of the bricks around the door were had a sort of a bronze or gold color which made those parts of the print look like they were plated in gold. It was amazing.

I base all these on my own impression from seeing a number or different prints on the metallic paper. This does not mean a simple portrait or snapshot will look bad. It just means there are some images which can really take advantage of the metallic paper.

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