Life evolving behind the lens

All the photos that are fit to print

Even though I primarily shoot in digital, I feel that printing your photos is a must. After all, your prints look different on paper than on a computer screen. Sure, the computer allows you to zoom in on a particular point in the frame, but I’ve found that it doesn’t work as well for showing what makes the photo work as a whole. So I still print my photos, and I generally don’t use my own inkjet printed for such projects, mostly because I take a lot of photos. That expense would get out of hand in no time. When I really started to invest in this hobby, I was actually working as a photo specialist at Walgreen’s (a place where I learned a lot about what not to do when taking photos). Because I got a discount, I developed/printed a lot of my photos there. Even after I stopped working there, I continued printing my photos there due to the price point and overall ease of the ordering process. The added benefit was getting an opportunity to compare photo papers.

Like everything else in photography, there is a wide variety of photo paper. The variables are endless, but brand and finish are the two most obvious. A funny thing happened at Walgreen’s between 2003 and 2004, and this allowed me to compare the photo papers. Walgreen’s opted to revamp all their photo processing equipment, switching from ancient Noritsu machines to Fuji models. The Noritsu machines worked with a generic glossy Kodak paper, while the Fuji machines took their own glossy and matte papers. I worked with those machines and an Agfa that used Kodak paper during my time at Walgreen’s.Just between brands there is a difference in color. Even the most inexperienced photo viewer will be able to see that Kodak papers are somewhat warmer in the palette than Fuji, which is more vivid. However, my next ability to compare photos would not come until years later.

That “years later” happens to be now. As I continued to take pictures and seek out more versatile photography equipment, I started to explore other options. I still tend to get everyday prints from Walgreen’s but have been looking at other photo labs over the last couple of years. I stumbled upon professional labs and those that are more photo-centric but designed for a broader consumer base. It wasn’t until I was looking at cameras that I found a new lab I felt comfortable trying out. That lab is Adoramapix, the photo printing arm of Adorama. Adoramapix provides a variety of sizes and finishes for photo paper. I’ve seen glossy and matte before but have never seen how lustre and metallic look in person. I know many professionals and serious photographers prefer matte/lustre. Me? I fully admit I’m a sucker for shiny photos, so when Adoramapix had a sale on prints recently, I decided to order a few on their metallic finish and black and white photo papers. Trust me when I say I really learned the difference photo paper can make after ordering these.

Many commercial printers while print black and white photos on color paper, which has some unintended effects on black and white photos. I took some snapshots on Cameron in black and white mode, and my initial prints reflected the strong blue that could be considered Fuji’s calling card. It’s not a blatant wash of blue, but the light grays reflect just the tiniest hint of color from the paper itself. Black and white paper eliminates this, allowing for a truer grayscale rendering of a subject, in turn making the enhanced depth of field more prominent. Meanwhile, the metallic paper is like nothing else I have ever seen. This paper is meant for bright light. When in reduced light, metallic and gloosy don’t seem that much different. Flick on a lamp, though, and the metallic paper shines. I mean that literally. Metals look almost three dimensional, and you almost expect to feel its cool texture when touching the photo. Whites are brighter and cleaner, and I’m seriously considering getting a print of my wedding dress on this paper because of that. The one drawback is it can make some colors look embossed, which doesn’t always work for blues and greens. Still, it’s a great paper for those photos you want to display. Metallic photo paper is meant for displaying.

I don’t think I’ll use black and white or metallic paper all the time. Glossy is still a good go-to for everyday prints and to see how I’m coming along in developing various aspects of the photography craft. However, when it’s time to show off a particularly good shot, I now have more tools in my arsenal to draw from in order to make my photos stand out.


One response

  1. Really enjoyed reading your story of your development as a photographer, and delighted that you’ve found success with printing at AdoramaPix.

    If you ever need help with an order – or after-sales support – I’m only an email away:

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

    August 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

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