Only briefly referred to above is the issue of conservation. The "industry standard" has been white, museum quality (usually cotton rag) board for a long time because they are neutral or buffered and contain no chemicals or acids than might damage the print. If one is concerned with print permanence (galleries and museums usually are), this will naturally limit the colors of board one has to choose from to whites of varying shades and maybe a light gray or two. Bright and darker colored boards usually contain inks and pigments that may contribute to print degradation. Maybe there are some newer materials that give more museum-quality color choices now than in the past, but, for many of us, the classic look of white board provides a neutral and widely-accepted background for the presentation of the photograph, which, after all, should be the focus of attention, not the presentation itself.
I prefer white board for the above and because I find it effectively underplays the presentation while being elegant at the same time. Unfortunately, there are a number of different "whites" available. I hate it when the whites of the board clash with the whites of the print. Since I print a lot at almost paper-base white, and since this is often at the edges of the print, it is important that the tone of the mat board be compatible with print whites. A too-yellow board can look terrible, kind of like that old white dinner jacket which has yellowed over time worn over a nice new white shirt.... yuck!
Since I use mostly cold-tone papers, I have chosen a bright-white board from Bainbridge (Alpharag Artcare board) for most of my work. Some prints I have with a bit creamier base, and find that the bright white Westminster board, which is slightly yellower than the Bainbridge, works well.
I'm still trying out other tones....
Last edited by Doremus Scudder; 03-28-2010 at 05:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.