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Thread: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

  1. #1

    Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Hi all,

    As above please, I’m going to be contact printing 10 x 8 b&w soon and before I commit to a particular paper I’d like to see comparisons between the tones and surface quality of the papers.

    Does anyone know if there’s a particular site or platform where this can be done?

    I am based in the uk and called Ilford in the hope that they might produce a selection of images printed on different fibre based papers, they don’t.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Quote Originally Posted by DannyTreacy View Post
    Hi all,

    As above please, I’m going to be contact printing 10 x 8 b&w soon and before I commit to a particular paper I’d like to see comparisons between the tones and surface quality of the papers.

    Does anyone know if there’s a particular site or platform where this can be done?

    I am based in the uk and called Ilford in the hope that they might produce a selection of images printed on different fibre based papers, they don’t.

    Thanks!
    In the US Foma sells a sample book. Ilford Classic multigrade glossy surface, is a good place to start. If you are using an enlarger for a light source it's easy to select contrast. Silver chloride contact speed papers are available, more expensive, produce beautiful results.

    Not as many choices as was available 50 years ago. Modern VC papers are amazing.

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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    If you can find photographers in your area that still print, they may be your best opportunity to see subtle textural, finish, and base color differences of different papers. keep in mid the developer also contributes to tonality.
    Adventure is worthwhile in itself. ... Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done. -- Amelia Earhart
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  4. #4

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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    When it comes to things like surface quality, the web just doesn't cut it. You cannot get a reliable impression of a paper's up-close-and-personal look & feel online. Once you have 'experienced' a paper, things people show and write about it online make sense, but as a buying guide, online information just falls short of conveying the texture, surface and general 'feel' of a paper, and nor is it in my experience possible to get a really good impression of the optical qualities such as sheen, reflection and base tint.

    Paper is an experience product. Therefore, the only really good way to get a feel for it, is to experience it.

    Sample packages are nice - if you can find them. Boxes of 25-50 sheets of 5x7" are a reasonable substitute. Just invest in 3-4 boxes of different paper types that you possibly like based on straightforward characteristics such as neutral/warm tone, weight and surface finish (gloss, semi-gloss, matte, lustre, etc).

  5. #5
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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Yes. Buy small sizes / small quantities to try them out with different images of your own. Sometimes you don't know if a paper is suitable till you've tried it. i.e. Art300 paper is terrible for some photos and awesome for others. Trying various papers and see how they look under glass and with your mat material is helpful too.

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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    super longshot, but if there was a travelling negative, perhaps members, when they had time, could make contacts of the neg, and in the end, you hopefully end up with a variety of papers.

    I know I'd be wanting to try Lodima and Adox Lupex if I were contacting. then other fb papers. good luck in your search and let us know what you discover.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

  7. #7

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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Ilford used to sell a paper swatch book, I have one.

    Here are some things to consider, this is a simplification based on doing fairly straightforward prints using variable contrast paper types:

    1. not all whites are the same: in addition to your basic white there are cream tint paper bases for a few papers, Ilford FB Warmtone paper has a slight cream tint that I like for some images.

    2. surface sheen: full gloss prints are attractive with some images and also give the darkest blacks however reflections from the surface can be distracting, and they also show fingerprints, some RC gloss papers have a very high surface sheen that falls into this category. Ilford FB warmtone is made in glossy finish but this isn't the full gloss of RC gloss papers, it is a slightly duller sheen that I find attractive for some images. If you wish to pursue print glazing (few do) the FB glossy papers will give a full gloss that matches RC gloss. Full matte papers have the least surface sheen, many are dead matte, no sheen at all, the depth of the maximum black (D max) suffers a little with matte papers. There are intermediate paper types variously called satin and pearl and semi-gloss, that give good blacks, don't produce reflections like full gloss papers do and don't show fingerprints. There are also paper types that might have the word "art" in the name, these sometimes have significant surface texture that suits some images and not others (texture can obscure detail for example) and probably these papers have surfaces that are matte-type.

    3. Bleed: lighter weight papers allow anything high contrast beneath the paper to show through, many RC papers are only average or poor in this regard. Some FB papers are heavier weight and show less bleed.

    4. ease of processing: RC wins hands down, quick processing and very quick washing. Washing FB paper, especially the larger sizes takes forever.

    5. price: RC usually wins on cost.

    6. availability: Ilford makes very good papers and chemistry and publishes reliable technical instructions for their products (I've been a fan for forty years)

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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    If any of you are in the print exchange, that is super good experience to experience different papers. I've done it a couple of times and hosted/organized one.

  9. #9
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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Even if you could get samples of the paper, there's a million developers out there that are significantly different in the way they react with the paper.

    The best thing you could do is buy a couple small packs of 8x10 paper and a couple basic developers and start printing. Trying things out with your own images is really the only way to go. It sucks and I've asked the same question many times before, but there's just no magic wand here to truly see every possible combination.

    If you want to just get to printing, and know whether or not you want glossy or matte, and RC or fiber, I would personally just suggest getting some basic Ilford paper of the appropriate variety, some Dektol, and work it out from there. A couple years ago I bought a bunch of different and exotic papers and developers, and after wasting hundreds of dollars trying things out and puzzling out what I liked or didn't like I just went back to Ilford and Dektol and made some decent prints. I did eventually switch to Ansco 130 developer and settled on Ilford Warmtone specifically for "general" VC printing, with Galerie and ART 300 on occasion.
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    Re: Where’s a good visual resource to explore fibre based papers?

    Though I've been making silver gelatin B&W prints in my darkroom for only about 5 years, I'm pretty much in the same place as Corran when it comes to my preferences among FB papers and developers (I use very little RC paper). I got there after starting with Ilford FB Glossy "Classic" and Dektol based on recos from fellow Midwest LF Asylum (MWLFA) members and experienced LFers and printmakers who live near me and have helped with my questions, and observing the many excellent prints of other MWLFA members at our Annual Print Reviews (4th Saturday of each January in Chesterton IN). Initially I was using a Beselar 45MX enlarger with a condenser head, and found that Ilford's FB Warmtone paper was giving me better results (than Glossy "Classic") as the shadow areas tended to block up less. But at those times I was also tending to underexpose my negatives (thus the problems with shadows when printing). I then attended one of John Sexton's workshops, which helped me greatly. Based on his review of some of my prints and some questioning, JS recommended I switch to an enlarger with a diffusion head and keep working the Warmtone paper (and Dektol) if I was liking that combination well enough. However, that workshop also led me to adjust my exposure of negatives in the field, and how I developed my films with my JOBO CPP2 processor (using D-76 at 1:1 and 3010 Expert Drums). Net/net, better and more printable negatives, and switching to an LPL enlarger with diffusion head and VCCE module, allowed me to improve my printmaking A LOT!

    The LFer who sold me the LPL enlarger also recommended that I try EC-130 paper developer (equivalent to ANSCO 130 I think), which I make from scratch as needed. Over the last couple of years I have evolved to use EC-130 and Dektol about equally, and I now prefer the Ilford FB Glossy "Classic" paper a bit more than the Warmtone, though I use both. Earlier this summer, another MWLFA member who no longer makes darkroom prints gave me his remaining supplies of several FB enlarging papers (all Variable Contrast), including some of the Ilford papers mentioned above plus others (e.g., Zone VI FB Glossy, ADOC MC110, Bergger Neutral and Warmtone, and Forte Semi Matte). With this opportunity to try these new (to me) papers, with EC-130 or Dektol, I've learned that I still prefer the Ilford FB Glossy "Classic" and Warmtone papers; that I want to explore a bit more using Semi Matte (Ilford or ADOX MC112) and Bergger Neutral Tone papers; and stick with EC-130 or Dektol. ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    Even if you could get samples of the paper, there's a million developers out there that are significantly different in the way they react with the paper.

    The best thing you could do is buy a couple small packs of 8x10 paper and a couple basic developers and start printing. Trying things out with your own images is really the only way to go. It sucks and I've asked the same question many times before, but there's just no magic wand here to truly see every possible combination.

    If you want to just get to printing, and know whether or not you want glossy or matte, and RC or fiber, I would personally just suggest getting some basic Ilford paper of the appropriate variety, some Dektol, and work it out from there. A couple years ago I bought a bunch of different and exotic papers and developers, and after wasting hundreds of dollars trying things out and puzzling out what I liked or didn't like I just went back to Ilford and Dektol and made some decent prints. I did eventually switch to Ansco 130 developer and settled on Ilford Warmtone specifically for "general" VC printing, with Galerie and ART 300 on occasion.
    ... JMOwens (Mt. Pleasant, Wisc. USA)

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