Paper specifications can only take you so far, and, realistically, the vast range of inkjet papers currently available is beyond anyone’s ability to thoroughly test. With that in mind, PHOTO Techniques asked some of our regular contributors what their favorite inkjet papers are. The answers, not surprisingly, depend largely on their needs and tastes.
Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk (GFS) is part of a new generation of papers that are made of real paper rather than plas- tic (see “Second-Generation Papers,” on page 30), but which allow the use of photo-black ink. Ilford GFS has become my current favorite paper for just about every application. My latest gallery show, as well as fine-art portfolios, have been printed on GFS, which is very hard to fault.
Though not as bright as papers that use Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs), Ilford GFS is one of a new breed that uses baryta, a clay-like substance that has been traditionally used in the finest fine-art papers for the chemical darkroom. It adds brightness to the paper without the fading issues that OBAs have. This paper is somewhat warm in tone, but that’s a characteristic that I value, and it is particularly appealing for black- and-white work.
Its heavy weight can cause problems when feeding it through some printers, but also makes prints feel substantial in-hand. At the moment there isn’t a paper on the market that I feel combines the characteristics I value more than Ilford GFS does.
Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 has been my preferred paper for fine-art prints for several years. It is available as Photo Rag 308 Bright White as well. The difference between the two is that the Bright White version contains OBAs. Which to choose is a matter of taste, though understand that OBAs do fade over time.
This paper has a smooth surface, but enough “tooth” or texture that it retains the tactility that so many photographers favor for their exhibition and gallery prints. Because it is a matte fine-art paper it uses matte-black ink, leading to reduced Dmax and dynamic range compared to glossy photo papers. The Bright White version is, however, more than acceptable in this regard for most photographer’s needs.