Metro’s Tips From The Experts: Framing Your Prints
With over 37 years of experience working within the visual arts industry Metro prides itself on the creative experts that make up our diverse team- from print technicians and retouchers to framers, scanners and client care – what our team don’t know about photography and print production just isn’t worth knowing!
Today’s tips come from our specialist framers and their advice on planning ahead when framing your photographic or art prints
1. Consider how you intend to present your work before printing (sizing and paper type can work better with certain frame styles).
2. Remember you want to show off the work – the frame should formalise but not dominate the work (less is more).
3. Be practical with what is achievable within your budget and time constraints (the finished product can still look fantastic if you have imagination and plenty of time).
4. Cheap ready-made frames will detract from your work, and may not be any cheaper than some bespoke frame options.
What Is A Limited Edition Print?
What is a limited edition print? In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. Most artists produce only limited editions, normally signed by the artist and numbered (eg 5/50) to show the specific print number and the total edition size. With limited edition work there will only ever be a certain number of prints produced and once they are sold, they’re gone!
Metro Imaging was one of the first UK photo imaging companies to introduce a bespoke Limited Edition print service for photographers and artists. The demand for limited edition runs of prints is expanding and with that there comes a responsibility for establishing both quality and provenance.
We work very closely with clients using our Metro Imaging Bespoke Service to produce high quality master prints. Once these prints are produced any further run on or edition is guaranteed to be consistent with the first print.
We pride ourselves in the way in which our specialist printers and technicians work – machines are regularly calibrated and serviced to ensure continuity and printers liaise directly with clients to maximise the working partnership.
In support of the edition printing service, we can provide Certificates of Authenticity and are also working closely with Tagsmart to provide non-invasive DNA and watermarking services to further protect our clients work. Our clients can also be reassured that it is their named printer that is producing the work and as we collaborate directly with manufacturers we can advise on the longevity and archival stability of materials.
We can help you create limited edition prints of your art and photography via our Bespoke Premier service.
Controlling your physical environment
The first step in colour management is to avoid dramatic lighting: keep it ambient in the room where you work. Don’t put your monitor in front of the window or other strong light sources and keep bright objects out of the field of view to avoid reflections on your screen.
Choose a nice neutral background patterns for your computer desktop. Ideally use a monitor hood to improve shading of the screen. The best, most accurate way of knowing if your screen is showing accurate colours is to invest in a spectrophotometer device such as an i1Display2 or similar. This inexpensive little gadget comes with full instructions and will perform tests on your screen to determine the output.
To check your screen calibration you can compare a test print side-by-side with its on-screen image using a product such as the Gretag Macbeth / XRITE Colour Checker Chart for a final check of saturation, density and hue.
Read more about the Colour Checker here
Remember you can also soft-proof your prints by downloading the appropriate profile before using our self-service system. This is a good way of checking your colour is correct before going to print.
Our current screen profiling settings are: Gamma 2.2. Colour temperature D64-D65 and Brigtness 80 – 100 Cd/m2
Self-Service Uploading a file
1. From the Self-service page to begin the print upload and ordering process click the “Upload files” button.
2. You will then be presented with the following screen on which all you need to do is click the “Select Your Images” button. You may also select your files directly from a Dropbox folder.
3. Once you have selected your files and clicked ok you will have the option to add more images or to upload and continue.
4. Whilst the system uploads your images you will be presented with a progress indicator – this may take some time to complete if you are uploading numerous files or large images. It is also dependent on your internet connection speed; so please be patient!
5. Upon the completion of your file upload you will be presented with the main self-service ordering screen.
Here you are able to set your service, print size, paper media and border options.
6. Your uploaded file will appear in the main window in the centre.
7. If you uploaded multiple files they will be displayed as small thumbnails below the main window.
To select an alternate file, click on the appropriate thumbnail.
8. This page is where you can set the paper type, the size of the print, border size/colour, and confirm files have been set up correctly (if using Adobe Photoshop).
How to make a print on Metros’ Self-Service
Use our step-by-step guide for perfect prints
Our Self-Service is a professional quality service that brings together our expertise in colour-management with your expertise in preparing your file.
Although it is possible to upload any file, from phone camera, digital camera or scan, we would strongly advise that you follow the following steps to prepare your file from within a program such as Photoshop to ensure the best results every time:
- Cropping your image for print
- Sizing your image file in Photoshop
- Adding borders in Photoshop
- Saving your file for print
If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop; or you would prefer to try the in-built tools on the website to do so? This is totally possible. But just incase you get stuck, we have prepared a few tutorials to help you out.
- Uploading your file
- Choosing your print media and size
- Adding borders
- Checking order settings, registering and choosing delivery options
If you get stuck at any point, then just contact us Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 6.30pm
How to Sell Your Photo and Art Prints Online
Sell your photo and art prints online without the hassle…
If you want to sell your images online, safe in the knowledge that your work is being produced to the best possible standard, by a professional and renown print lab, then our service is for you.
Our hassle free and fully customisable web shop plug-in sits effortlessly in your website allowing your clients to buy your prints straight from you.
No directing people away from your site to buy from third parties, no other branding other than your own and no competing with other sellers.
You can either work with Metro staff, or simply install yourself – you can use our web API to plug into the back of your website to provide your customers with a set of images available for order direct from Metro Imaging.
You can create as many galleries as you like, to truly show off your range of work; from limited edition prints to single art sales. You can set the sizes, prices, paper types and finishes and we will take of the rest.
How it Works
We can guide you through the installation process on your website, match the font and colour themes you use and show you how to add images and set prices.
We can also provide you with handy guides on how to get started with marketing your print shop and of course offer after sales care for your clients.
Behind the scenes, we will take payment for you, your high-resolution file is retrieved from our server; your print is produced, checked, packed, labelled and posted without you lifting a finger!
You can even provide us with your own branded packaging, which we will use to send your prints out to your clients, or we can use our own in-house packaging. Whichever suits you.
For more details just click here or give us a call on 0207 865 0000
Which paper should I use for photo prints?
We have a wide variety of papers on offer here at Metro Imaging from Digital C-Type, Fine Art Giclée or Genuine Black & White…
Our C-Type papers are perfect for exhibition printing and the ideal ‘all rounder’ paper type. All our prints are produced on laser printers, giving optimum results for your images for colour accuracy, light fastness and archival quality. Our digital c-type papers range from classic photographic finishes such as matt and gloss to speciality papers like Velvet, Metallic, Duratran and Supergloss.
Ranging from German etching to Hahnemühle papers, our Giclée papers create the perfect finish to any fine art print. These textured papers give warmth to colour prints and tonal depth to black and white prints.
Metro is the only lab in the UK where you can order true black and white prints. If you want a colour cast free, genuine black and white print then our resin coated paper is for you.
What is image resolution for printing?
Image resolution for printing is the fineness of detail you can see in an image. It is measured in pixels per inch (ppi). The more pixels per inch, the greater the resolution. You can think of this as similar to thread count in cotton sheets, or knots in handmade carpets: the higher the number per inch, the better the quality.
When you come to print, the pixels (ppi) are translated into dots (dpi). The image size of a file is a measure of the number of pixels along an image’s width and height. This is called the pixel dimensions and is measured in MBs. The document size of an image determines how large or small our image is going to print based on the image resolution.
As you change the resolution of a file, its physical dimensions change, and vice versa. Imagine the file as a flexible ball of data: rolled up tight there is a high resolution (pixel density) but low (linear) size. Rolled out flat, the resolution (density of pixels) is lower but the (linear) size has increased. It’s just like pastry!
Resizing is changing the size the image will print without changing the number of pixels in the image. Resampling changes the number of pixels in the image. Photoshop resamples images using interpolation methods to assign colour values to any new pixels based on the colour values of existing pixels.
You can read more about the different methods here. Information about how to use these elements in creating the best quality file for printing can be found in Using Photoshop to Resize and Resample. Understanding these basic terms will help you create better files, and in turn, better prints. To find out what resolution your file should be before printing, always use our ‘Technical Help Calculator’.
What is a Lightjet printer?
The Océ Lightjet 500XL is probably one of the most amazing photographic printers in the world. At Metroprint we have one of ten Lightjet 500XLs in the world so all our C Types over 48” wide are printed on this machine. Until we netted ours, you had to go to Dusseldorf to find another one available for photographers. We decided it was time to change all that and now prints measuring ten by six feet are within reach of any photographer in the UK.
It works by instead of copying the image, the lasers write the image onto photographic paper using an internal 270 degree drum. The paper is held still in a cylinder while the lasers get to work. Laser light is reflected by a spinning mirror moving along the axis of the cylinder onto the surface of the media. ‘Uniform spot size and shape’ means that even the edges and corners of an image are as razor sharp as the centre. This uniformity is better than any other optical printing technique.
This technology results in better image sharpness, uniform density and colour and the highest geometric accuracy over the whole print. As you can probably imagine, this printer needs special treatment, so our large format Digital C Types are processed slightly differently to other colour photographic prints.
What is colour management?
Colour management is simply the methods generally used to control the colour accuracy of files and photo prints. At Metroprint we follow all four steps outlined below and one very important further step: all our printers and processors are calibrated every time we load new photo paper.
Colour management for photo prints consist of five simple steps:
1. Controlling light in your room
2. Calibrating your monitor
3. Using Adobe’s Colour Workspace
4. Previewing your file with a softproof profile before going to print
5. View your final print in daylight conditions
To achieve maximum accuracy you should follow all four steps. The first three are all set-up, so only need to be undertaken once. The last should be used whenever you go to print if you want to be as absolutely close as possible to the lab situation.
1. A brightly lit room, a tilted screen, or just an old screen: these simple factors play havoc with predicting the final colour of your print. You should replace your monitor about every 4 years as the colour accuracy does diminish over time. We recommend CRT or LCD monitor types and bear in mind that laptops are very difficult to work with due to the changing angle of the screen. In terms of monitors: we prefer NEC, Eizo, Mac or Lacie.
2. New monitors are generally more accurate than old ones but they leave the factory with default settings that might need a tweak. Follow our simple instructions to mirror your monitor settings on your Mac or PC and you will be closer to a professional in-lab situation, giving you greater accuracy for the next two steps.
3. Photoshop uses colour ‘workspaces’ to reduce the amount of shifting taking place when a file is transferred from one format to another. You probably will have noticed the software asking if you would like to convert certain files to the default workspace? Whether or not you have set it up, you will be working in a colour workspace if you are using Photoshop. Like most printers, Metro work in the Adobe 98 colour workspace and using our simple set-up instructions you can have greater control over the colour of your files at the printing stage.
4. All printers use ‘profiles’: individually made files that calibrate a specific individual printer to one type of paper with one specific set of printer driver settings. Softproofing is a method of looking at what changes the profile will make to translate your file for the specifics of paper and printer. You can toggle between your file and the softproof file to see how colours have changed as a result of the printer profile. By previewing these changes you can make adjustments to your file (increase the saturation of red or green for example) to allow for these changes.
5. If you are producing a large number of prints it can be useful to look at them together in one place to reduce the variation in conditions. A well-lit room in the daytime is probably the most ideal situation.
What is the difference between Laser & LED printing?
Lambda and Lightjet are both brands of laser printer companies (Durst and Océ, respectively) that developed innovative digital replacements for traditional darkroom printing. Rather than using a bulb to expose light on photographic paper, these printers use three lasers (red, green and blue) to expose light onto photographic silver halide paper, advancing through the Lambda and in the Lightjet, rolled inside a large drum. The exposed paper is then processed in photographic chemistry to create a perfectly archival, digital but traditional C Type print. Hence the term, ‘digital C Type‘.
Laser printers such as Lambda and Lightjet are the preferred choice by artists and photographers the world over. Laser systems rely on elaborate combinations of rotating mirrors and lenses that must remain in alignment through use. LED technology uses a Light Emitting Diode print-head as a light source which is ‘solid-state’ (i.e. fixed) and has no moving parts.
But at Metro Imaging we know that the needs of photographers, particularly for fine art, are quite specific and based more around the quality of the image, rather than the speed or efficiency of the machine. For artists and photographers the key issue is resolution and image quality. Here laser printers win hands down. Compare, for example the Durst Lambda (laser) printer with a commonly used LED printer: the ZBE’s Chromira:
|ZBE Chromira||300ppi||1500 dpi|
|Durst Lambda Laser||400ppi||4000dpi|
|Océ Lightjet Laser||300ppi||4000dpi|
What is a Lambda printer?
We’ve had Lambda printers at Metro Imaging for years and we rely on them to produce not only all our colour digital C Types over 30 inches wide, but also our black and white Lambda prints. The Durst Lambda was one of the first ever laser printers to produce digital C Types. The technology uses a continuous roll to roll single beam, 3-laser (RGB) exposure system which means that you can make prints up to any length, with a width of up to 50 inches. The combination of size, flexibility and image quality has made the Lambda a staple of the best photographic labs across the world.
How does it work? In a similar vein to the Lightjet, digital information is exposed directly onto conventional photographic media. Linear writing speed is superfast: up to 65 cm per minute with a choice of 200 and 400 ppi (equal to an apparent resolution of 4000 dpi) resolutions. The Lambda produces images with the highest possible resolution (68 billion colours!).
Don’t forget the ‘Lambda’ is the machine, not a print type!
What is a ‘genuine’ black & white photo print?
The process for creating a black & white Lambda print is very similar to the digital C Type except instead of colour (C Type) paper and chemistry, we use genuine resin coated black and white photographic paper and chemistry. At Metro Imaging we call these prints ‘black and white Lambda prints’ and we are proud to state that the technology for this type of print was developed by Harman in collaboration with our creative director, Steve Macleod.
By adapting a large paper processor in conjunction with the manufacturers, Steve’s innovation lead the way for the possibility of producing large resin and fibre based black and white prints on a Lambda printer. Harman adapted their fibre based and resin coated paper for the Lambda and Metro Imaging is one of only a handful of places in the world where you can print digital files onto resin coated paper.
So Metroprint users have all the benefits of those years of R & D by Metro Imaging. The prints have a consistent and neutral image tone (in other words – no colour cast) and the paper offers fine tonal benefits including strong blacks and fine details in the highlights. With ‘resin coated’ papers, the paper is encapsulated in a plastic envelope and the emulsion stuck on the outside of the resin.
Fibre based or Baryta papers for black & white printing
We have devolved Fibre based Black & White printing using our Lambda – exclusive to Metro.
Baryta is a special barium sulphate coating that is traditionally applied to a Fibre based photographic paper base prior to coating with the emulsion layers. This paper, also described as ‘Fibre based’, has been popular as a traditional paper for black and white printing for many decades. Fibre based paper has the photographic emulsion coated directly onto the fibres of the paper so, in processing, chemistry soaks into the paper making it much slower to process, wash and dry. Fibre based papers also react much better than Resin coated papers to toning and other special effects, and are available in a much greater variety of specialty finishes. The technical benefits of the Baryta layer include greater detail and definition, extended tonal range and excellent archival properties.
We recommend Fibre based papers for their archival permanence and for producing the most beautiful fine art and exhibition prints.
Fibre based or Baryta papers for inkjet printing
We also offer Giclée Fibre based prints called ‘Baryta prints’ produced on our Epson Stylus Pro 11880. Instead of a light sensitive emulsion, the surface of the paper is receptive to pigment ink. Contrasting with more typical ‘Giclée’ papers, commonly matt in surface texture, these Baryta papers are slightly glossy.
The lovely thing about these new papers is that they bring back Baryta or Fibre based printing for colour images: something that hasn’t been around for decades. These new Baryta coated fibre papers have a unique look and feel which have recently become popular for Giclée printing for a revival of that traditional, weighty, fibrous feeling.
What is a digital C Type print?
A digital C Type print is any photographic print that has been exposed using digital technology, rather than traditional analogue (otherwise known as ‘darkroom’) techniques. In an analogue setting, an enlarger, an optical apparatus similar to a slide projector, projects the image of a negative onto a sheet of photographic paper whilst controlling focus, intensity and duration of light.
With a digital C Type this part of the process is controlled from a computer and the paper is exposed using lasers or LEDs rather than a bulb. The second part of the traditional process is much the same however: the paper is processed in a photographic developer, followed by bleach fix before being washed to remove the processing chemicals.
So a digital C Type is a traditional photographic print, made from a digital file rather than a negative. Many customers think that a ‘digital print’ has to be a Giclée print but this is not so. A Giclée print is quite different, using no chemistry or light sensitivity. For more information about Giclée printing, see: What is a Giclée print?
How to handle a Giclée print
Handling a Giclée print is a common question we are asked at Metro as fine art prints are susceptible to damage much more than a C Type print. When it comes to Giclée prints we recommend only using this paper when intending to frame straight away. If are are looking for portfolio prints, or free-hanging prints for an exhibition, we will always recommend using C Type papers as these are much more durable.
- All Metroprint Giclées come rolled over 20 x 16 inches and above
- Always handle you Giclée print wearing cotton gloves and avoid touching the print itself
- If you don’t have gloves, make sure you have clean hands and do not touch the ink – even the smallest amount of oil or grease that occurs naturally can damage an inkjet
- Always hold the print by it’s edges and do not bend the print
- We recommend printing Giclées with a border, so you have ‘clean’ paper to handle, this is useful for larger prints that come rolled.
- All Giclées naturally ‘curl’. To uncurl a print: Place the print on a flat, clean surface away from direct sunlight and leave the protective tissue over the print. Place a book, or another heavy object on the very ends of the print. After a few hours the print should become flat.
Self-Service Standard vs Self-Service Premier
What are the differences?
This is our most effective solution for photographers: ideal for those on a budget, students, or who simply want full control of their images. Self-Service standard means you colour correct, size and fully prepare your print for printing. During the ordering process you can set your print size as uploaded, or pick from our ‘set size’ menu. You can also add borders at this stage if you so wish. We have many how to guides with Photoshop tips and tricks, as well as a step by step guide to ordering to help you every step of the way.
We’ve noticed that some customers still want a professional eye cast over their images, perhaps to fine-tune them here and there – just to give them a little bit of extra TLC.
That’s where our Premier level Self-Service comes in; for an additional 50% of the Standard Self-Service fees, one of our expert technicians will correct your colours to make sure they’re properly neutral and check that the blacks are black, the whites, white. This quick expert judgement could make all the difference to your final print and help to avoid any disappointment.
You can send instructions for specific images with your order or just ask us to look over the whole file, all the other standard Self-Service options apply with the same quick turnaround, it’s that simple.
Just upload your images and try it for yourself!
Metro Online Print Sales extra info
If you’re using Metro’s online service for selling your photography or art prints then the points below will be of use to you. If you’re not, then check it out and register for free today!
PRINT & IMAGE SIZES
Sizes will vary according to the original format that the image was shot in. Print sizes stated are a guide to the paper size that the image is printed on. All images will be printed with borders.
MOUNTING & FRAMING
All photographic printing, mounting, bespoke framing and delivery and is carried out by Metro Imaging Ltd in London, to the highest professional standards. In the event of a query with your order please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7014 5146
The colour of your prints is liable to vary from the colours seen on screen depending on the calibration of your monitor compared to the original file supplied by the photographer. All prints are produced individually by expert technicians at Metro Imaging.
Please allow up to five working days for prints and from 10 days after print time for mounted and framed prints.
For all work sent via Royal Mail 1st Class please see here for their delivery times, we will do our upmost to adhere to production deadlines . However, in accordance with Royal Mail postal services, Metro Imaging cannot be held liable for delayed; misplaced or damaged goods once item(s) have departed from the Metro Imaging premises.
Which Photo Mounting Material Should I Use?
To assist you with deciding which option to use – we have a full set of mounting samples in reception to help you choose.
To help you decide which material to use we have prepared a chart that outlines the relative benefits of each substrate.
|Card||Ultra-light||1500 x1280 mm||Poor||Poor||Yes|
|Foamex||Light||3000 x 2000 mm||Poor||Good||No|
|Foamboard||Ultra-light||2440 x 1220 mm||OK||Poor||No|
|MDF||Heavy||3000 x 1512 mm||Excellent||Excellent||No|
|Aluminium||Medium Light||3000 x 2000 mm||Good||Excellent||Yes|
|Dibond||Light||3000 x 2000 mm||Excellent||Excellent||Yes|
|Kapamount||Light||3050 x 1530 mm||Good||Good||Yes|
|Acrylic||Medium-Heavy||3000 x 2000 mm||Good||Excellent||Yes|
Paper Size Conversation Chart
|| A Sizes
|10 x 8
||25.4 x 20.3
||254 x 203
|11 3/4 x 8 1/4
||29.7 x 21.0
||297 x 210
|12 x 10
||30.5 x 25.4
||305 x 254
|14 x 11
||35.6 x 27.9
||356 x 279
|16 x 12
||40.6 x 30.5
||406 x 305
|16 1/2 x 11 3/4
||42.0 x 29.7
||420 x 297
|20 x 16
||50.8 x 40.6
||508 x 406
|23 1/3 x 16 1/2
||59.4 x 42.0
||594 x 420
|24 x 20
||61.0 x 50.8
||610 x 508
|30 x 20
||76.2 x 50.8
||762 x 508
|30 x 30
||76.2 x 76.2
||762 x 762
|33 x 23 1/2
||84.1 x 59.4
||841 x 594
|36 x 24
||91.4 x 61.0
||914 x 610
|40 x 30
||101.6 x 76.2
||1016 x 762
|47 x 33
||118.9 x 84.1
||1189 x 841
|48 x 36
||121.9 x 91.4
||1219 x 914
|60 x 40
||152.4 x 101.6
||1524 x 1016
|48 x 48
||121.9 x 121.9
||1219 x 1219
|72 x 48
||183.0 x 121.9
||1830 x 1219
||229.0 x 121.9
||2290 x 1219
|96 x 48
||244.0 x 121.9
||2440 x 1219
What Is Baryta Paper?
Baryta is a special barium sulphate coating that is traditionally applied to a fibre photographic paper base prior to coating with the emulsion layers. The technical benefits of the Baryta layer include greater detail and definition, extended tonal range and excellent archival properties. In addition, Baryta coated fibre papers have a unique look and feel which have become the standard for fine art photographers worldwide.
Also known as fibre based, this paper has the photographic emulsion coated directly onto the fibres of the paper so, in processing, chemistry soaks into the paper making it much slower to process, wash and dry. FB papers also react much better than RC papers to toning and other special effects, and are available in a much greater variety of specialty finishes. We recommend FB papers for their archival permanence and for producing the most beautiful fine art and exhibition prints.
At Metro we offer black and white photographic fibre-based prints from digital files on Lambda and also Baryta Giclee prints.
One of the main reasons for using Baryta paper with inkjet printing is the ability to use photo black pigment inks.
What Is Laser Printing?
Lambda and Lightjet are both brands of laser printer companies (Durst and Océ, respectively) that developed innovative digital replacements for traditional darkroom printing. Rather than using a bulb to expose light on photographic paper, these printers use three lasers (red, green and blue) to expose light onto photographic silver halide paper, advancing through the Lambda and in the Lightjet, rolled inside a large drum. The exposed paper is then processed in photographic chemistry to create a perfectly archival, digital but traditional C Type print. Hence the term, “Digital C Type“.
The Durst Lambda was one of the first ever laser printers to produce C Type photographic prints. The technology uses a continuous roll-to-roll single beam, 3-laser (RGB) exposure system which means that you can make prints up to any length, with a width of up to 50”. How does it work? Digital information is exposed directly onto conventional photographic media. Linear writing speed is superfast with a choice of 200 and 400 ppi (equal to an apparent resolution of 4000 dpi)resolution. The Lambda produces images with the highest possible resolution (68 billion colours!!!)
Laser systems rely on elaborate combinations of rotating mirrors and lenses that must remain in alignment through use. ‘Uniform spot size and shape’ means that even the edges and corners of a Lightjet print are as razor sharp as the centre. This uniformity is better than any other optical printing technique. This technology results in better image sharpness, uniform density and colour and the highest geometric accuracy over the whole print.
But at Metro Imaging we know that the needs of photographers, are quite specific and based more around the quality of the image, rather than the speed or efficiency of the machine. For artists and photographers the key issue is resolution and image quality. Here laser printers win hands down.
Compare, for example the Durst Lambda (laser) printer with two commonly used LED printers: the Durst (LED) Theta printer and ZBE’s Chromira:
|Durst Theta LED||254ppi||1,200 dpi|
|ZBE Chromira||300ppi||1500 dpi|
|Durst Lambda Laser||400ppi||4000dpi|
|Océ Lightjet Laser||300ppi||4000dpi|
How Long Will My Photographic Print Last?
Factors that determine print life
In determining image stability and the lifespan of a print at the acceptable margins of change there are many factors which cause image degradation in silver halide based Colour C Type papers and Inkjet materials. There are mainly four mechanisms that contribute to determining longevity for photographic prints:
- Degradation of the dyes caused by heat
- Degradation of the dyes caused by light
- Yellowing of the minimum densities (DMin) due to light or heat
- Degradation of the Resin base
These same four degradation mechanisms also apply to Inkjet materials. The following further factors also have a bearing on lifespan:
- Ambient moisture (relative humidity)
- Atmospheric pollutants
- Direct water contact
To determine average lifespans of materials all these degradation mechanisms need to be taken into account, as it’s not just the permanence of the paper dyes or ink that will determine fade. A material could have excellent light and thermal fade performance but poor print life if the colorant stability is poor when exposed to moisture or atmospheric pollutants.
It is extremely important to recognize that the life of the image may not necessarily be limited by the stability of the image dyes. So we have to be careful of a manufacturer who states lifespan purely on dye stability or light stability alone or who uses only light fade data to describe the performance of a product, as it is very likely to not present an accurate prediction of print life.
How bright is a typical home environment for display? Light is measured in Lux and with 12 hours daylight in a room with west and south facing windows then you would expect light levels between 100 to 500 Lux up to a peak of 1000 Lux with a mixture of indirect and direct sun and artificial illumination in the evening. An average day over the year would be around 200 to 400 Lux illumination, dependent on the season.
Typical Colour C Type Print Lifespans
The following gives a guide to different environments and average expectant lifespans of Colour C Type prints.
|Museum||150 Lux||Over 100 years|
|Office||450 Lux||35 years|
|Commercial Display||1000 Lux||8.5 years|
|Commercial Display||5000 Lux||20 months|
Kodak Endura Paper
Kodak papers incorporate a patented coupler technology that shows good thermal stability. They state Colour C Type prints stored in total darkness in ideal atmospheric conditions can last over 200 years before noticeable fade occurs but this is not a typical situation for print usage. In a photo album Colour C Type print life should exceed 100 years.
Fuji Crystal Archive C Type Paper
Fuji paper is made at Tilburg in the Netherlands and Fuji state that the light stability of Fujicolor Crystal Archive papers at 500 lux is over 40 years. As already stated in domestic situations sunlit areas may be bright as 1,000 lux or more during the day and drop to 100 to 200 Lux in the evening. Normal storage conditions are usually designated to be at an average of 500 lux of light exposure for 12 hours per day.
This gives Crystal Archive papers an image stability of 133 years at 150 lux.
The dark stability of Fujicolor Crystal Archive papers kept in total darkness in ideal atmospheric conditions is over 200 years
Epson Inkjet prints
Without being restricted to a few choices of media to achieve professional requirements for longevity, Epson UltraChrome K3 inks are designed to work as a system with a wide range of professional media. Epson UltraChrome K3 ink has improved print permanence characteristics that provide light fastness ratings of up to 108 years for Colour and over 200 years for Black and White prints under rigorous industry accepted display conditions.
Technical information credited to Kodak, Fuji and Epson
What is a Giclée Print?
The word Giclée (“g-clay”), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt or spray”, Giclée, is used to describe a fine art digital printing process combining pigment based inks with high quality archival quality paper to achieve an inkjet print of superior archival quality, light fastness and stability. Our prints are created using an Epson 9880 with Epson Ultrachrome K3 inks, which with the 8 channel print head is capable of producing an extremely wide tonal range and colour gamut.
Metro’s Giclée printing offers both a softness and richness of colour and our operators will ensure the print represents the artist’s original work in the closest possible way by working with the client and producing a test print as part of the service.
The process involves squirting or spraying microscopic dots of pigment-based ink onto high quality art paper or canvas. The image is colour corrected to attain the closest possible match to the original work if required. The digital information is fine tuned to the type of paper or surface on which the image is to be printed, further ensuring fidelity to the original.
Giclées are printed on a variety of substrates or mediums, the most common being watercolour paper or canvas. Image permanence is a concern to artists and collectors. Estimates are based on laboratory simulations of aging to give a fade &colour shift resistance of up to 200 years in ideal conditions, tests developed and conducted by Epson.
Reproducing prints this way can be of an advantage to artists who find it unfeasible to mass-produce their work, but need to reproduce their work on demand. Once we make the master print and archive the digital master file, we can produce identical edition prints at any point in the future.