One of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout this course (as I begin to look at the professional presentational aspects of photography more seriously) has been accuracy in printing colours and tones. It has been an absolute minefield, although I have taken steps to try and get the best results that I can with the equipment that I have.
My tutor gave me some excellent feedback on my last assignment, to point me in the right direction (which I have taken ‘on board’), but I decided to take it a step further, in order to ensure my prints were of a quality and standard that I would be happy with for my final exhibition (and final assignment submission).
I use an iMac (or MacBook) computer, attached to a HP B9180 Pro printer for all my prints. I have recently calibrated the monitor using a Spyder 3 Pro. The paper that I normally use is ‘Lyson Archival Quality Pro Photo Gloss’ (265 gsm), which was chosen some time ago after some experimentation using a variety of different papers from different manufacturers (Canon, Kodak and some lesser known makes). This has always given me good results, with the exception (as has been pointed out by my tutor) that there is a slight lack of ‘deep’ black (although this has often been overcome by tweaking the ‘blacks’ slider in my Camera Raw software).
As I am using a HP printer, I thought it might be beneficial to use HP paper, especially with the inbuilt printer/paper profiles available with the B9180 Pro. I therefore took a single photograph and printed it using the following papers (which I obtained in small index sheets from the Photo Plus Show at the NEC last year) (some of which were specialist papers, for the sake of experimentation):
HP Professional Semi-Gloss Contract Proofing Paper (235 gsm)
HP Hahmemuhle Watercolour Paper (210 gsm)
HP Aquarella Art Paper (240 gsm)
HP Artist Matte Canvas (380 gsm)
HP Premium Semi-Gloss Proofing Paper (240 gsm)
HP Everyday Pigment Ink Gloss Photo Paper (235 gsm)
HP Professional High-Gloss Contract Proofing Paper (200 gsm)
HP Hahnemuhle Smooth Fine Art Paper (265 gsm)
HP Professional Matte Canvas (430 gsm)
HP Universal Instant-Dry Gloss Photo Paper (190 gsm)
HP Advanced Glossy Photo Paper (250 gsm)
HP Premium Plus Gloss Photo Paper (286 gsm)
HP RC Matte Photo Paper (200 gsm)
HP Professional Satin Photo Paper (300 gsm)
HP Premium Instant-Dry Gloss Photo Paper (260 gsm)
HP Premium Matte Photo Paper (210 gsm)
HP Premium Vivid Colour Backlit Film (285 gsm)
I also experimented with another manufacturer’s paper, printing on the same paper but using two different printer profiles:
Ilford Premium Satin Inkjet Photo Paper (250 gsm) – printed using (1) HP Premium Satin Profile, and (2) using Other Inkjet Paper Profile.What struck me was the incredible variation in both print quality and tonal range. I was very disappointed with all the Matte papers, the colours and tones within which I felt were very subdued. The speciality papers I also found very disappointing, although the HP Artist Matte Canvas gave quite an interesting finish (although unsuitable for the intentions of this project). Despite the wide variation in brightness and contrast, I felt that the best results came from the Satin and Gloss papers, with the Ilford Premium Satin (printed using the Satin profile) giving me the most satisfactory results.