Fine Art Print Production Processes
There are many ways of putting image to paper. From pencil to paint, from ink and dye to plates, metals, silvers, platinum and chemicals – imaging is constantly evolving. The number of processes is almost endless. Today, there are photo labs, commercial printers, photocopiers, offset presses for large quantity runs, wide format presses for billboards, and so on. All of these methods have their individual merits and fulfill their purposes admirably.
Fine Art Printing is a different entity, however. It demands special care and the highest respect for the image, the process and the final print, as well as an unrelenting attention to detail. Our Fine Art prints are produced only through premium processes, some old and some new. They are printed by professionals who are masters of their craft. Our collective respect for each image -- from the instant it is captured to the moment it is produced -- is clearly evident in each of our Fine Art prints.
Silver Gelatin Process
Silver Gelatin prints are black and white prints in the classic photographic sense. This traditional process has existed since the 1880s and has remained as the standard black and white photographic process to this day. These prints are produced from original negatives and from digital files. They offer consistent and neutral image tone with no cast, as well as strong blacks, detailed highlights and a superb tonal range in between. Our Silver Gelatin prints are produced on fiber-based paper and processed in traditional black and white chemistry. We choose Silver Gelatin production for black and white images that are truly timeless. These are museum-quality archival photographs that will last well beyond a lifetime.
TRANSLATION: Silver Gelatin Prints have a glossy, fiber-textured surface. The prints are never flat as they are organic and processed wet, then left to dry naturally.
Archival Chromogenic Process
Archival Chromogenic prints are produced by exposing an image on photographic paper and then processing it through methods of photographic chemistry. This process was developed by Kodak in the 1940s and became a photographic standard soon after. These prints can be produced from original negatives or from digital files. The resulting prints offer superior color saturation and fidelity. This process optimizes the enlargement capacity, resolution and contrast of the image, and offers an extended color gamut for rich colors and attractive skin tones. Our Archival Chromogenic prints are produced on photo papers with matte, glossy and metallic finishes. Photo exhibitors and galleries worldwide hold Chromogenics in high regard for their lifelong archival qualities and vivid print characteristics. We choose Archival Chromogenic production for color and toned images that have a “photographic” feel to them. Archival Chromogenic prints may also be referred to as C prints, Digital C prints and Lambda prints.
TRANSLATION: Archival Chromogenic Prints are photographs that have a similar look and feel to a set of 5x7 photographs that have been freshly developed at your local photo shop.
Silver RC Process
Silver RC prints, or Silver Resin-Coated prints, share production characteristics with Silver Gelatin prints and Archival Chromogenic prints. They are produced from both original negatives and digital files. This process exposes the image on black and white photographic paper. The image is then processed in traditional black and white chemistry. These photos have a pearl finish, no color cast and are truly neutral black and white. Silver RC prints offer rich blacks, bright detailed whites and an unprecedented range of grey tones. We choose Silver RC production for images that have a distinctive black and white photo feel. Silver RC prints share the same archival qualities as Silver Gelatin prints. They are sometimes referred to as Black and White C prints, RC prints or Black and White RCs.
TRANSLATION: Silver RC Prints are true black and white photographs that have a similar feel and finish to those of Archival Chromogenic prints. They maintain the full tonal range of a Silver Gelatin print without the wavy fiber finish.
Archival Pigment Process
Archival Pigment prints are printed with archival pigment inks on archival Fine Art paper. They are produced from digital files and offer continuous tones, smooth transitions and a vibrant, true-to-life color range. The process originated in the late 1980s and is respected by Fine Art experts, world-renowned galleries and passionate collectors. Since the inception of this process, technological advancements have led to higher resolution prints, highly archival pigments and inks, and a more environmentally-friendly print process. Prints are produced on Fine Art paper with matte and baryta finishes. We choose the Archival Pigment process for color and black and white images that warrant a more artistic approach to printmaking. Archival Pigment prints may also be referred to as Inkjets, Iris prints or Giclées.
TRANSLATION:An Archival Pigment print has an artist's feel, as it is created with inks. Its appearance is closer to that of a painting than a photograph while maintaining the energy and life of the image.
Platinum Print Process
Platinum prints are photographic prints made by a monochromatic printing process where the platinum lies on the surface of the paper. As a result, these prints have a completely matte finish. They offer an unsurpassed tonal range including warm blacks, reddish browns and expanded mid-tone grays. This early process originated in the 1830s and has been favored by some of history’s greatest photographers. Platinum prints are archival and are far less susceptible to deterioration.
TRANSLATION: Platinum prints have an attractive softness to them with a matte finish. They resemble some of the oldest photographs one would see exhibited at museums.
Cibachrome Print Process
Cibachrome prints are archival color prints produced on polyester based photographic paper from color slides. In this positive-to-positive process, the Azo dyes that create the image on the paper are within the emulsion, rather than in the developing chemistry, and are bleached out in processing. The resulting print has unparalleled color purity and image clarity. This process is regarded as one of the most archival by galleries and art collectors. We offer Cibachrome production on a limited number of color images when critical accuracy to the original slide is necessary. These prints are signed and numbered on the reverse side. Cibachrome Prints may also be referred to as Cibas or Ilfochromes.
TRANSLATION: Cibachromes are full color prints with a shiny, smooth, glossy surface on a sensitive, flexible polyester based paper.
Fine Art Print Medias
To ensure each Rock Paper Photo Fine Art print is of the highest quality, we use only the finest materials. Each print requires the attention of a master to every detail. No detail is insignificant, down to the very specific characteristics of each sheet of paper we use. We only use materials provided by the world’s most trusted manufacturers of print media.
Ilford Gallery FB
All of our Silver Gelatin prints are produced on Ilford Gallery FB paper. The Gallery FB is a real Baryta/Fibre base photographic paper based upon traditional black and white silver halide technology. It has an excellent contrast, sharpness and surface finish that give a superb continuous tone to black and white images. The Ilford name is synonymous with high-quality black and white photography.
Ilford Ilfospeed RC
Our Silver RC prints are produced on Ilford Ilfospeed RC and RC Digital paper. This paper has been designed using traditional silver halide technology based upon the emulsions used in the successful and popular Ilford Ilfospeed RC Deluxe and Ilford Gallerie FB graded papers. By using this paper for our Silver RC prints, we can guarantee a truly neutral black and white archival photograph without cast. It is far too common in Fine Art print production that black and white images are produced on color photographic papers. We are proud to produce all of our black and white RC prints on this paper and to be able to offer genuine black and white photos.
Kodak Professional Ultra Endura
Our Color Archival Chromogenic prints are produced on Kodak Professional Ultra Endura paper in both matte and glossy finishes. The Ultra Endura is a high contrast and high color saturation photographic paper. Its emulsion set delivers brighter highlights and bold colors for maximum impact. This paper’s emulsion set features accurate skin tone reproduction as well as superior highlight and shadow detail, while delivering excellent print longevity. Kodak has been one of the most respected names in photography for well over a century.
Kodak Professional Endura Metallic VC
In special cases we offer Archival Chromogenic prints in a Metallic Edition. In these cases the prints are produced on Kodak Professional Endura Metallic VC paper. This paper has a glossy finish and a metallic, eye-catching look producing prints with exceptional depth, deep blacks and a broad color range. Photographers have described the look as chrome on paper. This paper is specifically designed for digital exposure and has century-plus image stability.
Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta 315gsm
Hahnemuhle’s Baryta combines the virtues of a luxury cotton paper and a traditional baryta board. Its fine surface texture, in combination with the baryta gloss, endow portraits with a particularly expressive character. It is a white, 100 percent cotton paper that guarantees archival standards. With its premium high-gloss baryta inkjet coating, it meets the highest industry standards regarding density, color gamut, color graduation and image sharpness, while preserving the special touch and feel of genuine Fine Art paper.
LexJet Sunset Hot Press Rag 310gsm
LexJet Sunset Hot Press Rag is a 100 percent cotton, white art paper with a silky, smooth matte surface. This material has the look and luxurious feel of traditional art paper. It is ideal for images that need to convey a sense of timelessness and quality. The true matte finish of the Sunset Hot Press Rag adds an understated elegance to the image while conveying depth and pop.
Moab Entrada Fine Art Bright White 300gsm:
The Moab Entrada Fine Art Bright White is a 100 percent cotton, heavyweight fine art paper designed for the accurate rendition of photographic images. It exhibits a smooth, toothy feel similar to a traditional hot press watercolor paper but offers a bright white base excellent for high contrast images that demand extra pop.
Framing & Displaying Fine Art
Fine Art not only stimulates the eye, but the mind as well. It needs to be observed, analyzed, discussed, reflected upon and, of course, preserved. We want our Fine Art prints to last and to enhance the quality of the lives of who own and display them. At Rock Paper Photo we offer conservation framing that will guarantee the longest possible life for your print so that you can display, enjoy and share it with it confidence.
Our frames are made of specially-milled hardwoods and hand finished with natural dye, ink and wax. Their clean, black design and reserved white mat add character while not drawing attention away from the image. This is the ideal framing standard for Fine Art photography.
When framing, there is always the choice of what glass to use. The most common is clear acrylic or glass. However, neither of these possesses archival qualities. As a standard, we use UV Conservation Acrylic in all our frames. This UV-filtering, museum-grade plexiglass ensures harmful light has a minimal effect on the artwork. Choosing plexiglass over glass is beneficial in that it is both lighter and safer. Heavy glass can crack and break, and pose danger as a result. It is important to note that, for caring and cleaning, do not use glass cleaning sprays or dry cloths as they will damage and scratch the surface of the acrylic.
All matting and backings are 100% acid free, fully archival conservation materials. There are less expensive, non-conservation options available that provide a similar look but do not guarantee the print will remain unharmed or meet archival standards. We take pride in offering conservation materials. Our matting is white in color and specially chosen to work within the tonal family of the paper being used for the print.
Caring For Fine Art Prints
When you order an unframed Fine Art print from Rock Paper Photo, we want to see it live for as long as possible. Once it leaves our hands and enters yours, there are some important points to keep in mind when handling, framing or archiving your fine art print.
Your Limited Edition print is fine artwork. It should be handled gently and as little as possible. When doing so, be sure that your hands are freshly washed to minimize the transfer of oils from your skin. To help assure proper handling, Rock Paper Photo provides clean white cotton gloves with each order to lessen the possibility of leaving fingerprints and soiling the printed material.
When picking up your print, always use both hands and make sure the back of the print is supported so it does not bend. Never touch the surface of the image with your fingers. If you are trying to blow something off the surface, make sure you do not accidentally transfer any saliva to the print as this could damage it. Compressed air is a safer alternative to remove dust or other particles.
The surface of a Fine Art print can be damaged easily by placing objects on top of it. This type of damage is very difficult, if not impossible, to repair. In general, we advise that you handle your print as little as possible before having it framed or putting it into storage.
When framing your Fine Art print, to achieve maximum archival longevity, be sure to use the same material guidelines we follow at Rock Paper Photo. Use only UV filtering glass or plexiglass. Use only acid-free museum board for matting and backing. Make sure the frame you choose is sturdy, and, if it is made of wood, be sure it does not contain stains or dyes that may emit harmful chemicals that will damage your print. Avoid mounting your print with adhesive to any substrate. Adhesives and other mounting materials can be harmful to the life of the print.
Photographic materials benefit from a cool, dry, ventilated storage environment. The optimal storage conditions for most photographs are a temperature of 68°F and relative humidity in the range of 30 to 40 percent. Avoid storing your Fine Art print in your attic or basement. Keep all photographic materials in enclosures that protect them from dust and light and provide physical support during use. Chemically stable, acid-free plastic or paper enclosures are recommended. Your print should be kept away from any harmful light source by storing it in an acid-free, durable, photo-safe box.
The Value of Fine Art
The value of an individual piece of artwork depends on a number of factors. In addition to the quality of production and materials, discussed above, there are several other characteristics that are important to bear in mind:
Rock Paper Photo guarantees the authenticity of each piece of art that is produced. We work directly with the photographers and copyright holders of each image in determining the size and individual characteristics of each edition. Each Rock Paper Photo print is delivered with a photographer-signed Certificate of Authenticity guaranteeing the work is of Limited Edition and has been approved by the photographer. In the case of artwork by deceased photographers, all Certificates of Authenticity are estate-stamped to assure their authenticity and quality.
Rock Paper Photo guarantees the number and exclusivity of each edition -- once a limited edition sells out, it will never be produced again. The characteristics of each Limited Edition are based on image motif, production method, number produced, size and crop, if applicable. As a result of these factors, the actual image size will vary from the print size ordered. Most commonly, Fine Art prints have a 1” white border on the top, left and right sides of the print. At the bottom of each print, there is a 2” white border where the photographer signs and numbers the piece. For example, a 16x20 print will measure 16x20 but the image on the print will measure 14x17. When framing the artwork, the size of the mat and the thickness of the frame will determine the final size.
Appreciation & Value
Many factors are taken into account when determining the value and price of our Limited Edition art. The notoriety of the photographer, whether the photographer is living or deceased, the popularity or iconic nature of the subject, the number of prints to be produced in the edition, market forces, the production process chosen, the era in which the photo was taken, and many more factors are all taken into account in determining the accurate value of each piece.
Unique Nature of Image
A photographer is an artist and when he or she captures an image, a moment in time is also being captured that will never be experienced again.
We hope this Buyer’s Guide has provided a useful overview of Fine Art photography. If you would like more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.