Lustre, Semigloss, and Smooth Pearl - The Paper Cuts

on August 12, 2015

Okay, I can tell the difference between these if I look hard...but if the various manufacturers come out with new surfaces like Semi-Lustre, Semi-Semi-gloss, and To A Certain Extent Smoothish Sort Of Pearl I am going to just take the box nearest the front and whack that into the printer. If I am feeling fussy I'll put it in the right way up and if not I'll just stand at the door and throw the box at the machine...

You can still get sample books for paper surfaces and colours from various makers and sometimes they are a help - however paper development can leapfrog past their own publicity and sometimes the books fall out of date. And sometimes the images in the books seduce us into believing that our own pictures will look as good, but then leave us standing.

This isn't a new phenomenon- the old darkroom paper books from Ilford, Agfa, Kodak, Ansco, Seagull, Gevaert, etc. were mostly black and white but could exhibit such a variety of effect for surface and colour as to fill any professional need. Some papers were bizarre - witness the silk pattern surfaces and some of the heavily swirled ones. There were artistic reasons for it, as there are for heavily textured inkjet papers, but these were few and far between. Mind you, we all tried them and as fate would have it, some of the best portraits of people we love are seen on these odd papers - if we have lost the negatives we are left with just the oddities.

Commercial considerations often dictate the surface for giant inkjet prints - in some cases canvas is the material of choice. Artists sometimes favour matte surfaces to suggest watercolour paper. Technical prints may benefit from a high gloss.

The default paper, though, probably is some sort of a slightly broken clear white. Ilford, Hahnemuhle, Harman, and Permajet all make something of this nature, and if you wish to print A2, A3+, A3, A4, 5 x 7, and 6 x 4 there are ready supplies in bulk.

Indeed - sometimes there are great bargains - once a year Ilford used to give from 5 to 10 free sheets of their standard papers in special packs at the regular price. Right now we have Harman A4 in 100 sheet boxes for under $ 50. If you've a printer and are a Printer, come visit.