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Archive 2013 · Metallic vs more conventional paper
  
 
nolaguy
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p.1 #1 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


What are your opinions about metallic vs more conventional paper? When do you select one over the other?

Iíve really never used metallic as Iíve considered it a bit gimmicky and less classic (no slam intended to fans of metallic).

Thoughts please?



Jan 10, 2013 at 01:52 PM
huddy
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p.1 #2 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


I don't think metallic is the answer for all prints, but I like it's strong suits for certain shots: pictures with strong backlighting, or a lot of golden light in general. I wish I had a particular example to show, but the particular shot I'm thinking of is sitting on a hard drive, not in the cloud.


Jan 10, 2013 at 02:16 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #3 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


You pretty much answered your own question. When it looks like a gimmick it doesn't work better than conventional stock.

Any reproduction technique that gets consciously noticed by the viewer of the photo (exaggerated contrast, HDR, even more Bokeh than typically seen by eye) becomes a counter-productive gimmick / distraction from the story in the photo.

In terms of perceptual cause and effect it will make the highlights seem more specular than white paper and give images of reflections on water and shiny objects more "pop" and with it a greater sense of 3D, but as with a mirror the appearance will vary (compared with a normal white base) with the lighting intensity / angle of illumination on the print and to some degree what the surface of the print is reflecting.

For example, if you put a chrome ball in a white box is looks like a chrome ball. But put it in a black box it looks like a shiny black ball because it reflects what is around it. In like manner a metallic print displayed in a very bright space would "pop" but in a dark one will just make the highlights see duller than white paper would.




Jan 10, 2013 at 02:40 PM
kdphotography
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p.1 #4 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


Besides printing for my own portrait clients, I do a lot of printing for other photographers and artists on many different types of photographic papers, fine art papers and canvas. Yes, including metallic. Some people fall in love with a particular substrate, but I always tell them to "let the image" decide what it wants to be printed on. Sometimes you get an image that is really flexible in how you can print it; other times a bad media selection can really ruin the impact that image makes. That includes metallic (and any other substrate). And sometimes there are images that just sing when you choose metallic paper.

I like metallic paper when I see an image where I really want saturated colors to come out. I want zing. Or maybe I want it to scream out for attention. I want a commercial feel or high gloss. Where it works, it's great. But it's far from being a favorite and simply is a choice for clients when the image calls for it.

ken



Jan 10, 2013 at 04:14 PM
lukeb
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p.1 #5 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


kdphotography wrote:
Besides printing for my own portrait clients, I do a lot of printing for other photographers and artists on many different types of photographic papers, fine art papers and canvas. Yes, including metallic. Some people fall in love with a particular substrate, but I always tell them to "let the image" decide what it wants to be printed on. Sometimes you get an image that is really flexible in how you can print it; other times a bad media selection can really ruin the impact that image makes. That includes metallic (and any other substrate). And sometimes there are images
...Show more

+1



Jan 10, 2013 at 04:20 PM
nolaguy
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p.1 #6 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


Thanks so much guys - and Chuck, nice to see you back.

Any others that have input, I'd love to hear it.



Jan 11, 2013 at 04:55 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #7 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


Watch for the neutrals in the metallics, my experience a while back was that they could have a cast to them that showed up in the lighter areas of a B&W ... I wound up choosing a lustre finish (which did well in competition) so I'd run proofs if you've got some important neutrals before I'd final print.

Not sure if they've improved the cast issue, as I haven't used any metallic since. Looking at others work in color, I haven't really noticed it of late. I've seen where some aluminum has an option for neutral variance, so hopefully there is a good neutral metallic paper to be found. Just something to consider.



Jan 11, 2013 at 05:15 AM
 

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John Caldwell
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p.1 #8 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


Only to add that images that contain high-key areas with high frequency detail are the images that allow the added depth dimension of metallic media to come through most. I think this is a property of pigment inks to become opaque when laid down in high density, yet to retain some translucence when laid down in low density.

Aside from this, I think of the metallics as offering high gamut, high Dmax, with a very glossy surface. So any image that begs for those POP features will usually do well on a metallic.

By metallic, I am referring to the lineage of papers like BC Vibrance, Red River Polar, Moab Slick Rock, Atlex Chrome, and the like. I am definitely not talking about the gold and silver glitter papers like those from Atlex Moon Glow and Pure Silver. I can't think of ANY use for those media for the kind of photographic printing I am familiar with.

I've done a lot with metallic papers that are either framed behind Museum Glass, or laminated with glossy laminate after Gator Foam mounting. Paring the right image content and purpose with the technique allows you to achieve results you won't get any other way.

John Caldwell



Jan 11, 2013 at 05:58 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #9 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


All color printing is based on the concept overlapping dots of CYM semi-transparent inks subtracting color from the full spectrum illuminant. The illuminant passes through the ink layers, bounces off the paper, and through the ink again. Black is produced when all the illuminant is filtered out. That's the opposite of RGB where the three illuminants are added / overlapped to produce white.

Solid C+M+Y pigments don't filter perfectly because the cyan and magenta pigments are not theoretically pure. That explains why when you print a neutral looking image of a gray card that was R=G=B in Photoshop the CYM percentages are not equal. Part of what a printer profile does for any ink / paper combination is to determine the C+M+K "recipe" for all neutral tones darker than the paper base created with the ink dots. Because of the impurities 100% CYM creates a dirty brown not a neutral black. A "skeleton" K channel is needed (over the darkest neutral color the inks can produce) in darker shadows both for greater reflected density and neutral appearance.

The difference between offset printing and ink jet is how the overlapping dots are formed.

Traditional offset printing uses discrete dots typically spaced 1/133th" or 1/150th" apart (i.e. 133 DPI and 150 DPI screens). Offset screens are angled 45 degrees to each other for CMK and 15 degrees for yellow causing the the dots overlap is an rosette pattern. The eye can't resolve the pattern so the screened image is perceived as continuous tone. The discrete dots in offset printing in a magazine can be seen with a 10x loupe.

Ink jets and modern offset color separations use a process called Stochastic screening (a random pattern) and frequency modulation of the ink jets to form the dots but the cause and effect is the same. The inks are semi-transparent, overlap, and subtract wavelengths as the light bounces off the paper. The smaller the dots on the paper, the less filtering of the full spectrum "white" illuminant by the inks and the more the properties of the paper affect appearance.

Metallic substrates reflect the light passing through the ink differently than white paper. By way of analogy consider how light reflects off a wall vs. a mirror. The angle of illuminant can changes the appearance of the mirror but not the flat wall.

The ink will also react with the stock and dry differently. Ink absorbs and binds with the paper (matte finishes) or the paper coating (glossy stocks). That will not occur the same way on metallic stocks. Have not printed ink jet on metallic but when printing offset on them it could take several days to dry the sheets before finishing.

Edited on Jan 12, 2013 at 12:22 AM · View previous versions



Jan 11, 2013 at 07:05 PM
nolaguy
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p.1 #10 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


Thanks and thanks again. Per usual, amazing amounts of generous information to be had from FMer's.

I really appreciate you all taking the time.

Kind regards,

Chuck



Jan 12, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #11 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


Personally, I don't like the inkjet metallics very much, but I have profiled them for people that do like them. Even though they say the metallics can't be profiled, there didn't seem to be any particular problem making profiles, and test prints maintained a very neutral gray ramp and an overall they looked very good.

Since we're talking about inkjet metallics here and not offset, and there are so few people using a true CMYK RIP for inkjets, no one needs to concern themselves with anything regarding cyan, magenta, yellow and black, color separations or the like. You just treat the metallics like any other paper and send RGB data through the printer driver, which, in turn will do the final black box separation to however many inks your printer happens to use.

Unless there has been a new metallic introduced recently, the common wisdom is that all inkjet metallics come from one manufacturer - Mitsubishi, so you're getting the same product no matter what it says on the packaging.

Metallics for RA-4 process are another story altogether. They seem to be much more "metallic" in their underlying reflectance than the ink jets and are also more difficult to profile - at least when I did run metallic profiles years ago, but if you want the ultimate in glassy surface, those chemical prints still offer a surface unmatched by any inkjet media.



Jan 12, 2013 at 06:54 AM
kdphotography
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p.1 #12 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


+1. Spot on Peter.

I'll just add that it's not that inkjet metallic papers can't be profiled, just that it takes greater care, as they can be more difficult to make an accurate icc printer profile.

The inkjet metallic papers do all seem to come from the same manufacturer, but there are subtle differences in some of the recent releases, but those deal more with the heft or weight of the paper rather than the surface. None quite have the zing that Kodak's Endura Metallic produces, but to be fair, inkjet metallic substrates with their more "gentle" zing are more forgiving and much easier to print images on, particularly if printing portrait subjects or subjects with extreme highlights. Inkjet metallic substrates are also available in much wider roll widths (I can print up to 44" wide); most pro-labs are limited to 30" in width for Kodak Endura.

ken



Jan 12, 2013 at 02:59 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #13 · Metallic vs more conventional paper


The information on color separation was to explain how subtractive color used in printing in response to the comment about the inks being opaque. The paper reflecting the light affects the color balance seen in R=G=B neutral values and the printer profiling process adjusts the amount of CYMK ink used to create grays based on any bias the paper introduces.

For example if you profiled white and ivory stock then compared CYMK values of R=G=B gray when softproofing with the two different profiles you'd see different percentages to compensate for the fact the illuminant was bouncing off yellow, not white paper. Less yellow and more blue would be needed for the R=G=B patch to appear neutral gray. If you just printed on ivory stock with a white paper profile you'd see paper's yellow bias in the neutrals; more in the light tones with lower ink coverage, less where there is heavier coverage and less of the paper is seen.

It's not surprising metallics custom profiled OK with neutral grays in the printed result since that's what making a custom profile is supposed to do, determine the recipe of CYMK needed to make equal RGB values appear gray on whatever stock the ink is printed on.

As Peter said you don't need to worry about the RGB > CYMK conversion on ink jets because the "black box" (internal RIP) of the printer performs all the magic. But the "recipe" for that magic RGB>CYMK transformation you don't need to worry about is in the profile which is applied by Photoshop when managing printing and the end results are only as good as the profile is accurate.

Peter has the equipment and skill to make his own profiles for any paper he uses so for him it's a given that color management will be optimal. But if you or I printed on metallic without a custom made profile and the profile selected wasn't a good match color biases might be seen in the neutrals tones.



Jan 12, 2013 at 03:25 PM





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