Making Metallic Prints
It used to be that if you wanted to print metal you would have to make a tintype or , even earlier, go watch Louis Daguerre. But in recent years, there has been a resurgence in metallic printing alternatives, a few of which are actually printed on sheets of real metal, whereas others are only metallic-looking picture papers that impart a metallic look. Following is a rundown of my adventures with a few great metallic printing options, such as lab-made prints, actual metallic prints and even custom paper options for making homemade prints with a metallic appearance.
— Lab-printed metal newspapers. My first stop for a metallic printing was to call on one of those big national print houses that make it easy to purchase prints remotely. You know the ones: Bay Photo, Adorama, Mpix. I just uploaded the photographs I wanted to publish and assessed the “metallic surface” choice to get prints on Kodak Endura Metallic paper. This upgrade cost me a 20% premium over conventional papers, but the results are pretty stunning. It works especially well with topics that lend themselves to this type of metallic remedy: industrial arenas or “slick” well-produced photographs. Bright colors–notably rich reds and blues–encounter really well, while subjects that may possess the right “glossy” vibe although not a lot of bright colours still get the job done nicely, but they do not show off the beauty of metallic papers like color-rich graphics do. I’ll state right up front of these lab-made metallic paper prints ultimately became my favorites of the bunch. The cost of an 8×10 print was just under five bucks.
— Lab published on actual metal. The next option I tested was a picture printed on real metal. The laboratory accomplishes this by some kind of voodoo, likely involving a printer that costs over my home. It used to be that a big machine simply sprayed ink onto any variety of surfaces, including metal. However, these days the ideal hd metal prints are made in an aluminum panel, and the picture is almost embedded in the alloy–not floating over it. The results are intriguing in that although this is the only print created on a genuine metallic substrate, the prints I made look the least like that which we tend to think of if we imagine metallic printing. I guess that’s a function of just how great the metallic newspapers seem, using their high-gloss sheen and pearlescent finish. Do not get me wrong, the real metal print still seems amazing, and it’s a quality the paper prints don’t: it is substantial enough because a physical object to just hang as is, directly on the wall. With a easy foamcore backing to cancel it (something labs normally offer, too) you’ve got a completed object ready to hang. I certainly enjoy the true metal print, but if you’re searching for as much shiny “pop” as your buck will buy, in my experience it’s possible to discover that elsewhere. If what you need is a inanimate thing, nothing compares to the material of the prints on real metal.
— Inkjet printing on paper. I analyzed a box of 8.5×11 from Epson (25 sheets was about 25 dollars) called Metal Photo Paper Glossy. Even on my aging inkjet, the results are outstanding and undoubtedly rival the lab-made metal print. The only fault I could find is that there is some metamerism (the appearance of the ink floating over the paper, which causes it to reflect light differently between highlights and shadows), particularly in the darkest areas of the print. The inkjet’s capacity to print continuous tone pictures may take a backseat to some lab-made silver halide print, but that’s not a role of the paper. The main point is if you would like to regularly make metallic paper prints, then there’s very little that should keep you from investing in a box of Epson’s metallic newspaper. It surely has the same slick, high-gloss texture as a lab-made metallic paper prints with no higher cost and without waiting to receive your prints straight from the laboratory.