Hype, Happiness, and Hahnemühle

on May 24, 2017
We've sold Hahnemühle paper for years at Camera Electronic but oddly enough have rarely used it in our shop printers. The reasons are simple - economics and operational expedience - Hahnemühle paper is expensive in comparison with standard Ilford inkjet material and the small-scale signage that the Stirling Street shop has needed could be done with A4 Galerie Smooth Pearl. Plus the Epson printers that we have used in the shop to crank out the signs have suitable profiles inside them for the Ilford product. The fact that we use the Epson paper profiles for the Ilford Galerie is neither here nor there - a similar description in the printing menu of Photoshop Elements gets a very similar result, and you don't need to be Picasso to make a " Buy More Stuff " sign in black and white with Gill Sans lettering... But what if you do want to be Picasso at home - with good complex images and an exhibition in view. What if you want to use fine art material to make fine art? That is where Hahnemühle come in. They don't come in cheap, mind, but the results are good. I purchased an A3+ box of Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 gsm for $ 159 - 25 sheets in the box. With Epson ink, that comes out to about $12 per print. For that sort of money you want to have more successes than failures in the printing process. The files were exotic things - dancers seen against a dark backdrop - and the choice to use a full-bleed borderless format meant that a lot of ink was going out as well - perhaps raising the price to $ 14 per print. I ran a printing head test on the Epson Stylus printer to make sure that there were going to be no streaks ( a procedure I thoroughly recommend to those of you who do not print every day...), cracked the seal on the paper box, and away I went. The first thing that you need to find out is which side the ink goes on. In the Hahnemühle boxes, the coated side faces up. You can just tell it by close sight if you get the paper under a strong glancing light. It would not hurt the manufacturers of this sort of expensive quality paper to put a sticker on the internal plastic packet to indicate this, or to print a tiny ghostly " no" on the back of the paper. Or in this case a " nein"... Once loaded into the low-bend cradle of the Epson printer - you don't use the regular hopper feed of the thinner papers - it was time to choose a profile. You can do this easily off the internet, but I elected to do it even easier by choosing one of the in-built Epson profiles for a similar paper and letting the printer do the rest. The colour-management experts and printing gurus reading this may now tear their hair and stamp around their shops shouting imprecations, but I found that it worked out just fine. I am planning on running a Shoot Photography course based on " Press the button and get a cup of coffee " for the fine-art crowd... Well...did it work out fine? Did it, what! No test prints, no tooting around. 12 prints straight through from 12 different files and not a scrap of trouble from any one. I always make sure I leave large prints undisturbed to dry, harden, or gas off overnight and then they are ready to be mounted. That was half the box used to good effect. Emboldened, I took files of building material patterns for my model dioramas - brick, stone, rubble - and enlarged them to A3+. Perfect. For $ 12 I have a sheet of material that costs $ 29 in the hobby shop. The bottom line of this story is the fact that the bottom line with Hahnemühle may look dear...but the quality of the product is such that it really isn't so. If you pay for good products, they are the cheapest in the end.