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Glossy or matte prints?

Dirk Dom , Sep 14, 2010; 05:49 p.m.

Hi.
I own a Fuji GX 617 and a Mamiya C330, and I shoot Velvia with it. From a 6 x 17 slide I got a 7 foot print made, and I got some 24 inch prints made from the 6 x 6 slides. I got them printed on a lambda printer and mounted with matte finish, and they look very good. But I'm wondering if they might look better glossy. I didn't get them mounted glossy because I was afraid of strong reflections.
Are there rules that say when you should prefer glossy to matte, and what is most used in exhibitions?
Thank you,

Dirk.

Responses

Scott Murphy , Sep 14, 2010; 05:57 p.m.

Reflections with a print that large could definitely be a problem. Most galleries do know how to handle lighting to minimize it, however. Most of the prints I see in exhibitions are either on glossy or semi-glossy paper (either true silver halide or inkjet printed). Glossy and to a lesser extent, semi-glossy will give you deeper blacks and better contrast. With the greater contrast will also some a slight increase in apparent sharpness.

Paul Cooklin , Sep 14, 2010; 06:02 p.m.

Hi Dirk - I like matte prints under glass...I find glossy too reflective...but it's all down to personal taste..could you not get a sample done on both, smaller sized, on a cheaper material than Lambda?

Steve Parrott , Sep 14, 2010; 07:33 p.m.

Don't know if this will help you or not, but I base the glossy / matte decision on the content of the photo. For portraits, or anything that predominately has people as the subject, I much prefer matte. Glossy just plain looks all wrong to me with any "people picture". For "most" anything else, glossy is preferred. I certainly would want glossy for say a night cityscape scene, but might actually prefer matte for a very "soft" pastoral scene where I do not want vivid colors. So to me it just all comes down to what the actual image is as to the deciding factor between glossy / matte.

Chuk Tang , Sep 14, 2010; 07:47 p.m.

I do the same as Steve. It depends on the subject. Lambda glossy is mirror-like and you will need to control reflections very well. But it looks deeper than matte. Matte looks a lot more delicate and refined to me. I personally don't like semi-gloss finishes.

David Henderson , Sep 14, 2010; 09:06 p.m.

Couple of points.

  • It depends what effect you want to create. Gloss prints tend to be more vibrant, this might be just right or might be too much depending on your taste and that of the people whose walls they'll hang on.
  • I would make a decision for each portfolio not each image. I think its important to show a consistency of approach if you're going to hang or show works together.
  • You are liable to get a slightly bigger dynamic range on gloss papers rather than matt. This can be useful .
  • The precise look and degree of gloss/reflectivity is a function of the paper you (or your lab) choose. For example Fuji "supergloss" has a real mirror finish and notably glossier than Crystal Archive gloss. Crystal archive papers look different from Endura papers and so on. Many labs don't offer much choice of papers because they want to use rolls, but another lab might have made different choices. And there's nothing particularly magical about Lambdas; a LightJet or Chromira will do similar jobs if the lab's good.
  • If you're making your own files and have the profiles of the papers your lab uses, you can use soft proofing to minimise the vibrancy differences between gloss and matt papers.

The closest thing to a rule is that the artist decides . That means you need to get a test print or two made to help you develop a preference .

Frank Uhlig , Sep 14, 2010; 11:45 p.m.

I prefer glossy for all prints of mine, people or landscape or cityscape or street .. More detail, clearer to see. To my weak eyes. Yours may differ, though.

Frank Schifano , Sep 16, 2010; 09:58 a.m.

You've asked a really loaded question, because ultimately it's your taste and your choice. If you're doing this with public exhibition in mind, see what the curator prefers and go around to see how it's done in other places. If it's for personal use, then it's completely your choice.

Q.G. de Bakker , Sep 16, 2010; 11:48 a.m.

A matte finish creates a veil over the image. Contrast and saturation will be better on gloss prints.

dennis williams , Sep 17, 2010; 12:56 a.m.

All my exhibition work graded, double weight, fibre based matte. Ink jet printing is divided by subject - commercial= glossy, fashion= matte.

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