PRINT

Where photography meets art: printing on professional papers

Fine art photographer Antonio Gaudencio explains how he chooses the perfect high-quality printer and paper combination for showcasing his striking landscape and travel images.
A person sits at a desk holding a print of a rocky landscape matching the one on the computer screen in front of them.

French photographer and Canson® Infinity Ambassador Antonio Gaudencio has been using Canson® Infinity papers for several years to print images such as this dramatic coastal landscape of Playa de la Arnía, a beach near the village of Liencres in northern Spain. "When I'm planning a photo in terms of subject, colours and light," he says, "I'm already thinking of which paper I'll use."

When French photographer Antonio Gaudencio was printing his fine art photography book Toujours là, he didn't hesitate for a moment about what printer and paper combination to use – his Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 printer with Canson® Infinity RAG Photographique DUO paper. "Print quality is very important to me – in the printer as well as the paper I choose," he says. "I love this paper with its super-white, smooth matte surface. The final print quality on this paper is very elegant, perfectly suited to my black and white photographs."

Impeccably designed and featuring dramatic coastal landscapes and enchanting woodland scenes in sleek monochrome, Toujours là is a work of art in its own right, not just a way to display photographs. Antonio is well versed in photo printing, selling both limited-run signed prints as well as unlimited prints, all produced on quality printing paper. But with so many professional photo paper options available, how does a pro choose the best for each photograph? And what considerations, exactly, make each choice the right one?

Here, Antonio reveals the role that print plays at every stage of his photographic journey and explains how finding the right combination of printer and paper allows pros such as himself to 'paint' in a way an artist would.

Dubai at night with the Burj Khalifa tower prominent against a moody sky.

"Our Canson® Infinity Platine Fibre Rag or Baryta Prestige II range of printing papers enable professional photographers to achieve that traditional darkroom look – vibrant colours or deep blacks – with a digital print," says Canson® Infinity's Jane Dixon, VP of Marketing, Digital Fine Art & Photo. This image, captured by Antonio in October 2021, shows Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the tallest tower in the world. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L III USM) at 12mm, 2.5 sec, f/7.1 and ISO100. © Antonio Gaudencio

Planning for print

Print is on Antonio's mind even before he picks up his camera, informing the style of pictures he'll take. "I shoot reportage photography for agencies and other clients and I'm also a fine art photographer. When I'm going on a trip, whether to shoot reportage or personal work, my choice of subject and of light affect the paper I'll ultimately use," he says.

"It's important to differentiate between gallery-standard fine art papers and papers used for offset or book printing," Antonio continues. "Colourful, highly saturated images with heavy contrast are difficult to reproduce with some papers used for book or offset printing, which can reduce the colour gamut and Dmax [the deepest black tone a display or printer/ink/paper combination can reproduce]. If my photos are printed on fine art Canson® Infinity paper, my technique will make the most of the wide colour gamut and increased Dmax afforded by this extremely white paper."

Selecting the right printer

Antonio has been using the CanonimagePROGRAF PRO-2100 for the past three years. "I am extremely satisfied by the stability and quality of prints this printer produces. I like the ease-of-use, the low maintenance, as well as the diversity of formats it offers – right up to 24 inches (610mm) – and the capacity to create borderless prints," he says.

Above all, Antonio can rely on the printer's colour fidelity. "Thanks to its LUCIA PRO 12-ink system, I can be sure of the colour range needed to reproduce the beautiful colours of my vibrant photographic prints," he says.

"At this level, you want to get your colours right," concurs Canon Europe Product Marketing Lead, Suhaib Hussain. "If you're printing in black and white and you're getting a cyan hue or your image is coming out with a warmer tone, those things can be very detrimental."

Antonio also likes being able to configure the printer using Canon's Print Studio Pro and Professional Print & Layout (PPL) software, which work with all major photo editing packages, streamlining the production process.

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"The software really helps with colour management and has features like soft proofing and hard proofing which give the assurance that what you're seeing on the screen is what you'll get in print," adds Suhaib.

An A4 print of a rocky landscape with a thick white border emerges from a Canon printer.

"Once you step up to a certain level and you're using the pro range of Canon printers, it's about quality, longevity and showcasing your work in the best way possible," says Suhaib. "You can't risk the inks fading or the printer not supporting the paper you're using."

Smooth, textured, matte or gloss: what type of photo paper do professionals use?

When it comes to choosing a professional photo paper, there are plenty of options from the various paper brands to suit your particular requirements and personal preferences. "The first decision is probably the surface," says Canson® Infinity's Jane Dixon. "Some photographers will only ever use matte paper, and some will prefer the sheen of gloss."

Canson® Infinity offers a range of 18 products. If you're not sure where to start, Jane recommends getting hold of a Canson® Infinity Discovery Pack, which includes samples of different print paper, and printing the same image on each as a test.

A bad printing paper choice can cast doubt on the quality of your photographic work, warns Antonio. "I like the rich range of papers Canson® Infinity offers. There's a paper suited to every photographer's unique vision." His personal favourite is the Canson® Infinity Platine Fibre RAG. "I love how its smooth, satin-soft surface and whiteness replicates the colours in my photography perfectly."

Each image-maker's choices will largely be governed by their own creative interpretation. "Within the matte range, we then have different softness of grains, different finishes," says Jane. "You can opt for a dead matte, which is a completely smooth surface, or you can choose a paper with texture.

"Some photographers prefer very white, smooth paper as it doesn't interfere with the image. Especially with a bright, white paper, the blacks appear very dense, so it's a nice option for monochrome. Portraiture, too, prints well on smooth paper, as the grain doesn't alter the appearance of the subject's skin. Others feel the texture adds to their work, creating a three-dimensional effect or a sense of movement. A landscape photographer, for example, might opt for that."

Create fine art prints to last a lifetime

Clive Booth takes advantage of the Canon EOS R5's eye-tracking features and the printing power of the imagePROGRAF PRO-300 to shoot stunning portraits of ballet superstar Carlos Acosta.
Mist rises over seaweed-covered rocks at Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye.

"As a travel photographer who's passionate about landscapes, ecology is a subject of great concern to me and to us all. I congratulate Canson for not using any OBAs [optical brightening agents] in their papers," says Antonio. This image of Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK, was taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens at 17mm, 10 sec, f/16 and ISO50. © Antonio Gaudencio

Pairing printer and paper

Canon works closely with Canson® Infinity and other professional photo paper suppliers to ensure perfect compatibility between printer and paper, whichever type you choose. "At Canon we're about the hardware, the software and the inks, and we have our own professional paper range, but we also understand that some professional photographers have third-party media they love to use," says Suhaib.

"If a Canon user picks up one of our printers, they can be sure that it will support their paper preferences. We work closely with companies such as Canson® Infinity, sending them our new technology way in advance of release, so they can develop ICC profiles for each paper in their range."

To get the "best, most faithful prints possible," Antonio adds, "it's very important to use these profiles."

A white-gloved hand holds up a print of colourful buildings. Similar images can be seen on a nearby wooden desk.

"The FILA Group owns three traditional fine art paper mills including Canson, ARCHES and St Cuthberts Mill in the UK," explains Jane. The premium ARCHES® range, for example, is produced using a traditional cylinder mould process at the company's mill in France.

Prints made to last

"Our papers are 100% cotton and acid-free – they're so stable that, if you're an artist, you can create limited-edition prints with confidence that you are using museum-grade papers," Jane says. "We took traditional watercolour papers and added an inkjet coating, so that artists, printmakers and photographers can print their images on to these original fine art papers."

Canson® Infinity doesn't use OBAs in its matte fine art print papers, which helps to ensure the longevity of prints. Antonio notes that it is also an environmentally responsible policy. "As a travel photographer who's passionate about landscapes," he says, "ecology is a subject of great concern to me and to us all. I congratulate Canson for not using any OBAs in its papers."

Essentially, choosing high-end printer paper is a statement of intent. It shows that you take your work seriously and are investing in its artistic value so that it will last well into the future.

As Antonio concludes: "Your choice of paper is as important as the quality of your photography."

Written by Rachel Segal Hamilton


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