Ink Jet Papers – Red River

August 23rd, 2008
by doinlight

One thing I haven’t done at all really is play around with different ink jet papers.  My thinking is simple – there is so much to master in all the tools I use – Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. – and so many techniques to learn that adding one more variable is something I just wasn’t interested in doing.

I made the decision right at the start to go with matte papers.  The paper I chose was Epson Enhanced Matte, now renamed to Premium Presentation Paper – Matte.  The decision was based on my desire to produce photographs that look more like paintings.  A glossy or even luster surface shouts “photograph!”  But people don’t expect to see photographs on matte surfaces.  At shows, people frequently ask if my works are paintings.

So Epson Enhanced Matte paper has worked out very well for me and I still stand by my original decision.  It’s my paper of choice.  But I had no idea what I was getting into.

When I made the decision to use matte paper I didn’t know about color gammit and DMAX.  I had no idea how limiting these two things would be and the difficulties that lay ahead.  I didn’t know how much more difficult is was to print on matte then, say, glossy.  The limited DMAX was probably the biggest challenge.  I struggled with muddy shadows.  But limited color gammit also created its own challenges, particularly with muddy yellows.

I tried a few test prints on Epson Premium Luster.  The results were excellent.  It’s a great paper.  Color saturation was wonderful and the blacks were crisp and clean.  The photographs had a special glow to them.  But it wasn’t what I was looking for.  They looked like photographs.  So, in spite of all the advantages, I always came back to Epson Enhanced Matte.

When I started printing note cards some months ago I became aware of Red River Paper in Dallas, TX.  They have papers specifically designed for note cards.  These papers make producing note cards very easy.  You simply print the card, let it dry for a day (always a good practice), fold it, add an envenlope, stuff it into a clear bag and you’re done.  How easy is that?

Red River offers a sampler of their note card papers.  They have quite a variety of papers covering all the major types – glossy, luster and matter.  I gave them all a try. 

One paper, however, stood out – Polar Matte.  I couldn’t believe the shadow detail.  And this was on a matte paper.  I printed them using my Epson Enhanced Matte ICC profile and they came out just beautiful.  This became a paper worth looking into and possibly switching to.

One of the concerns of course is the archivability of this paper.  The testing results published on the Red River web page are not conclusive.  However, it appears that the papers will be good for at least 50 years and probably more in the 100 year range like other high quality ink jet papers.  Of course, I’m referring to prints made with pigmented inks such as the Epson K3 inks which I use.  The archivability of dye based inks is measured in weeks or months, not decades.

So I think I’ll switch over.  I just placed an order with Red River for a nice selection of paper sizes.  The other thing that’s nice is that Red River has a huge variety of sizes as opposed to the limited selection from Epson.  Red River also has Polar Matte in rolls which will be very useful as I get into making larger and larger prints.

Two sizes that will be very useful and save me a ton of time are 8X10 and 11X14.  I sell 8X10 prints mounted on mat board and want to offer 11X14.  But mounting the 8X10s is tedious because I print on 8 1/2 by 11 paper and have to cut it down.  Now I’ll be able to print directly on 8X10.  I also want to create 11X14’s and with 11X14 paper that will be a simple process also.  It’s all about simplifying your production while maintaining your quality.

So there seem to be a lot of advantages to this paper beyond the enhanced quality of the images.  I’m eager to get started.


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