Printing Papers

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by wilf102, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. wilf102

    wilf102 Member

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    Where can I get condensed info on printing papers and techniques?

    As a new user of film I am discovering there there is more to life than an inkjet!

    I went to an Irving Penn exhibition recently and his prints were done on Gelatin Silver, if I remember rightly, and simply blew away some inkjet prints from another nearby exhibition.

    So. What is Silver Gelatin, cibrachrome, baryta paper, fibre paper etc, etc?

    Can someone help me get a handle on all these and more?
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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  3. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Silver gelatin is the usual regular B&W printing paper.
    Cibachrome is a colour process using colour dyes which work subtractively.
    Baryta and fibre are one and the same type of paper. Resin coated paper is the newer type of paper which requires less washing time than fibre.
     
  4. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    For B&W, another important distinction is graded vs. variable contrast (VC; aka multigrade or various other terms or contractions of them). Graded papers are designed to produce a single contrast grade and can't be adjusted, except to a limited extent by developer choice. VC papers, OTOH, include blue- and green-sensitive layers that respond differently, so you can adjust the amount of contrast in a print by varying the amount of blue vs. green light used when exposing the papers. This is typically done via magenta and yellow filters, either built into the enlarger or bought separately.

    There are also differences in "tone." Cool-tone papers tend to have a faint blue or green tint, whereas warm-tone papers tend slightly toward the brown or red. Any paper's tone can be changed by toning, which is a separate (optional) processing step that's done after the basic processing.

    If you're just starting out printing, VC RC papers are the easiest way to get started, but some people prefer fiber-based and/or graded papers. All of these are available in a variety of finishes (glossy, matte, etc.), sizes, tones, etc. If you've got negatives that you want to be professionally printed without doing the work yourself, ask the lab or shop to show you samples of the papers and processes they offer.