My first job in photography was working in a professional darkroom, printing other people’s photos. I later created my own darkroom in my parents garage and would spend hours in there perfecting my photos. I’ve always enjoyed the end to end process of photography, the pre-planning, the styling and makeup, collaborating with a model, lighting and of course the photography. But as soon as the shoot was over I would rush to process the film and then print off a few photos. It wasn’t uncommon for me to open the door to my darkroom to discover it was 3 am in the morning.

Today is no different, the tools may have changed but the need to see the finished image after a shoot is exactly the same. However, one thing I am hampered by is the lack of a professional printer at home. I’ve tried a variety of methods and inks, but never been able to replicate the quality of the images from my days in the darkroom. I set the bar high from an early age so have always sent my images away to be printed. Today I enjoy having them printed onto quality paper or large canvases and even made into books as these are the mediums that help complete that end to end creative process.

So when I was approached by Jozsef who runs a printing facility in Hungary to see if I wanted some of my images printed for free, I didn’t need asking twice. A week later and the images had been delivered to my door by Fedex and now that my work day is complete I have opened them up like a box of chocolates, trying to pick my favorite. 

I should add at this stage that this is essentially a sponsored post. I wasn’t asked to do a review or share my opinions, but I’m sat here feeling the texture of the different papers and felt compelled to share my thoughts as I go down memory lane.

I have a stack of printed images in front of me, all from my recent shoot in Utah. I had sent a mix of colour and black and white files, all saved as sRGB as this is the preferred colour profile for printing these days. Each file has been printed onto a variety of paper types with the name of the paper in the bottom left corner.

Jumping straight to it, my favourite is this print below which is printed onto Rag Photographique 310 gr. It’s so similar to the type of paper I would use in the past. It has an almost matte finish with rich blacks and strong whites that don’t add a yellow’ish tone to them. I say almost matte as there is a slight silky texture to it which I think is why the blacks are so strong. There is a lot of depth to the mid tones, whilst retaining a gorgeous contrast. My snap of it below is not doing it justice, just know that this is going on my wall.  
The Pro Premium Matte 210 gr (below) is similar, but as the name suggests is slightly more matte to touch and it also has a faint yellow tint to some of the whites. The blacks are gorgeously rich and is delicate to the touch, just as you’d expect from a traditional matte paper.
Jenn is resting on this lovely Photo Lustre Premium paper which is much more silky. It’s definitely not a gloss but it has that heightened sense of detail that you only find in silky or gloss papers. The jagged rock beneath Jenn is very clearly defined and really helps to show the sense of visual depth in the photograph (this was a crazy location).
The next two are of an image of Auroraa standing in a field of tall grasses. The wind was wild that day as you can see from her hair and the grasses were a constant blur which all added to the rather native feel about the image. What is not obvious from the example below is how different these two images look and feel. The Baryta Photographique 310 gr is the one I picked up first as the glossy nature of the paper helps to really separate Auroraa from the grasses. The black of her eye makeup and the shadows that frame her face really jump off the page. The same is true of the shadows that trace her arm. It’s a perfect follow on from the Pro Premium Matte 210 gr.

However, the next paper clinched it for me, a new favourite! This is Edition Etching 310 gr and it has a gorgeous feel to it. The paper is very textured which is typically achieved from a stock with a high cotton weave. So you’d be forgiven for assuming that this would cause the inks to sink into the paper resulting in an image that is less detailed (as you might expect in a canvas). But somehow the same detail is visible and in fact the blacks are richer than the The Baryta Photographique 310. It has perfectly replicated the image whilst holding a higher sense of quality about it. I’m honestly in love with this paper…
Continuing the black and white theme the next two papers are Photo Silk (Satine) 200 gr and Platine Fibre Rag. As the name suggests the Photo Silk has a more glossy and reflective feel about it which lifts the blacks off the page nicely. However, now that I have felt the other papers I can’t enjoy the lesser weight of this paper. Albeit I am sure this would look perfectly fine when mounted in a frame.

The next paper from the same image is a Platine Fibre Rag, this is a heavier paper and has very deep blacks and more depth to the shadows. Jenn has her back to the setting sun in this image and her hair is being lit up by it. This paper holds the finer detail of her curled hair where the Photo Silk was less able to retain it. 
I should add that all of these papers can print colour images. I’ve just ordered them in this way as I’m enjoying being able to revisit my past love for black and white printing

The next set of images are indeed colour photos. This shot was taken at the very last minutes of golden hour in the salt flats in Utah. That golden glow behind Jenn is the final moments of the sun setting behind the mountains that surrounded us and its light is bouncing off the white floor as a perfect fill light. I have three examples of this image.

The Baryta Photographique 310 gr we’ve seen before with the image of Auroraa and here it looks spot on, it’s very true to the original image and something I would want on my wall.

Next is a Pro Premium Matte 210 gr. It’s very similar to the one above, but what is noticeable is a warmer hue to that sun behind Jenn. Reading back I can see I spotted a slightly yellow tint to the whites of the black and white image on the same paper so perhaps this is a trait of the stock? Either way, I think it works really nicely for this image.

The final paper for this image is the Photo Lustre Premium RC 310 gr. On its own it is a perfectly nice paper, but being able to see the other two papers next to it the colours feel more muted. Honestly, these are minute observations as they all look great, But of the three I would go with the Baryta Photographique 310 gr.
And finally an image that I am so fond of that it became a book cover. To me this is a very natural and earthy image so picking a paper to match is quite hard. There are four papers to choose from and first up is one that we’ve seen before, the Photo Silk (Satine) 200 gr which is one I now realise I didn’t like before and seeing it again with this image I can see the same thing, it feels more muted by comparison to the others that are sat next to it.

Next to it is the Platine Fibre Rag which is so much richer. The reds in the walls really stand out when compared to the Photo Silk. This is also a heavier paper and no doubt pricer paper.

After that is a new one, the Arches Aquarelle Pure White 310 gr. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a gorgeous paper. It is another highly textured stock that as before you’d expect the ink to disappear into but somehow the image is visibly brighter than the two described above. Everything about it is perfect. The image has a high concentration of reds in it, with just Jenn to provide the contrast and these colour details really stand out on this paper and I just love the way this feels to the touch.

Last but not least is the trusty Rag Photographic 310 gr which was the paper I started with at the top. Somehow this paper is better than the one above. The reds are visibly richer and there is more detail in Jenn’s hair and toes. This is clearly a very versatile paper and I think I could use it time and again. 

In summary they are all very nice quality papers that I am only able to put to such scrutiny as I have a direct means to compare them against one another. Many of these finer points I have pointed out disappear should the image be mounted and framed as the glass adds a layer of abstraction. But when pressed, and importantly when holding the paper in my hands the Rag Photographic 310 gr and Edition Etching 310 gr are the papers that really stand out for me.

I have a busy year planned for my camera and I so if all goes well I hope to be needing some of the images printed and now I have a good idea of how to go about that.

If you want to find out more please check out Jozsef here:

PS - I should also add that I was sent some sample canvas prints which I haven’t gone into detail on here as it is harder to do a direct comparison with. Like for like, your eye would say there is less detail resulting in a loss in the depth of the image. This is to be expected of a canvas when held close up and side by side a more traditional print. But print it large and mount it on the wall and a canvas comes into its own. Perhaps that is a topic for another day. 

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