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In Search of B&W printing perfection
A Review of Canson's Platine Fiber Rag paper Part 2
by Miles Hecker
Sharing A View ..... © David Brookover
I created a few 24x30 inch test prints and set up the quartz halogen floods for viewing. David Brookover came over and we gave it the eyeball test. The subtle qualities of the Canson Platine prints edged out the other test prints. The slightly buttery nature of the highlights were the deciding factor. The Museo Silver Rag was a close second. We would make the Canson Platine our new paper for B&W printing
Having a technical background, I began to wonder about what we were seeing. Was it an illusion? Were we talking ourselves into seeing something based on hype? Could we measure the difference?
I got out my trusty Xrite spectrometer and began making some measurements. The key to any printing is the white of the paper. All the profile can do is attempt to adjust the inks laid down on top of the white background that is the paper itself. An ideal white should reflect all colors of the visble spectrum equally. It should have no optical brighteners. Optical brighteners absorb and re-emit UV and violet light in the blue spectral range. They do this to counteract a yellowness in the base stock. The optical brightners can change with age and make the white artificially blue. They also can change color under light sources with different spectra. This phenomena is called metamerism
The paper should reflect as much light as possible, 100% is not realistic, but 96%-97% is possible.
The spectral data as measured can be seen in the table below. A type A tungsten illuminant was used for the test.
The difference between various fine art printing papers are visually real and can be measured with a spectrometer. For my purposes, I've selected Canson Platine as the fine art B&W printing paper of choice.
If your preference is for dead neutral highlights in B&W prints, Museo Silver Rag may be an alternative. The more highly glossy surface however may temper that decision.
The proper profiling of the paper for your printer is an important part of the process. Do not get carried away with creating the blackest blacks at the expense of shadow detail.
Proper preparation of the image in Photoshop is also critical to the final making of the print. Over sharpening, over zealous toning and any other misuse of Photoshop's powerful tools can make the final product artifical and "digital" looking.
If you are interested in viewing prints on this paper for yourself, you may see a collection of them at David Brookover's newest gallery located at 725 Canyon Road in Santa Fe, NM.