• BARYTA SEMI-GLOSS
This paper has a rich, soft-gloss finish that looks and feels just like
the beautiful exhibition darkroom fiber papers from years ago
(Fig. 1). It is my go-to paper for black-and-white images because it
provides the deepest black and best shadow detail. It is excellent
for brilliant color and especially for low key images. Print tonality
holds up well under strong competition lights because images can
be printed especially “deep.” This paper is not typically paired with
a float mount/deckle-edged presentation, but in an 8-ply bevel
cut mat and optional ¼-inch white border reveal, it is truly elegant.
When you get your prints back, you can pop them into a thin black
frame for an instant museum piece for your studio wall.
• WATERCOLOR PAPER
This is a textured matte paper, excellent for images that have a fine-art
feel (Fig. 2). It is well matched to full color images as well as sepia and
muted color looks, especially when a painterly effect is employed in
the processing. It performs well with images of medium to high key
tonality, but for low key images where much of the “story” is way down
in the low tones, this paper will not perform as well as the Baryta Semi-Gloss or Photo Luster Papers (below). When a float mount/deckle-edged print presentation is used, this paper is ideal. The print texture
might be too strong for subjects where a very delicate skin tone is
desired. Black-and-white images, because of their inherent “filmic”
look, would be better matched to Smooth Matte, Baryta Semi-Gloss
or a Photo Luster Paper.
• METALLIC LUSTER
This is a specialized paper that can add a stunning visual dimension
to the properly chosen image, especially product photos, cars,
motorcycles, some wedding detail images (ring shots, etc.), some
landscapes and certain types of black-and-white or monochrome
images (Fig. 3). Images with specular highlights work best, where
the metallic effect will be the strongest. Low key images may not
display the effect as well. The metallic look and luster finish would
not pair well with fine-art imagery and most portrait work.
• SMOOTH MATTE PAPER
This paper is similar in print characteristics to the Watercolor
paper above, except with a smooth surface. It is an excellent all-around paper, a very common choice for competition prints.
• PHOTO LUSTER
This paper has a classic photo luster finish and tonal characteristics
like the Baryta Semi-gloss (above). It delivers brilliant, faithful colors
and deep blacks under competition lighting, and it works well in an
8-ply bevel cut mat.
SELECTING THE BEST PAPER FOR
After producing thousands of competition prints over the
last 25 years, one of the most common questions I get
from photographers is “what paper should I choose?”
Paper selection definitely plays a big role in how your
images are presented and viewed. Here's an array of
papers I'm currently using, along with some suggestions.
To view an extended gallery of competition prints: