The Big Paper Survey – The results

You can save hours by learning from other photographers experience of using papers here. And if you have some useful feedback to contribute yourself, please fill in the survey yourself.

Argyrotype process:

Works:

  • Buxton; Fabriano 5; Silversafe; Whatman watercolour; and many others.
  • Lenox paper (I buy mine through Daniel Smith Co.) works flawlessly every time – no loss of density down the drain or in the fix, and good shadow density with no bronzing. The surface is a bit on the soft side, so the finest details may not pull through. Platinotype paper (Crane’s) also works very well, sometimes with a little loss of density down the drain, but a better finished surface than the Lenox. Make sure to use only the White, not the buff-colored product, which is completely different. (from Felix B)
  • Arches Platine, Cranes Cover, 90 lb. (from Darryl Baird)
  • MOAB Entrada – its acually an inkjet cotton rag, but works great! (from Jonathan Day-Reiner)

Doesn’t work:

  • Rives BFK (from Darryl Baird)
  • Fluid Watercolor 300gsm cold press – most density washes off. (from Jonathan Day-Reiner)


Bromoil process:

Works:

  • Agfa MCC Clasick: David Lewis’ paper as sold by the Photographers Formulary in Montana. Different looks call for one of the other.  No other paper works nearly as well for me (from Carl Maier).
  • Luminos Classic, Kodak Polymax and Kentmere are good papers to use.
  • Bromoil: with a special treatment , modern papers like the FB of Ilford, Forte, Agfa etc. can be used. But it is far more easier to use:
    Kentmere DocArt , David Lewis bromoil paper, Bergger bromoil paper and of course any 300 grs aquarelle paper prepared with Liquid Light. For me the best choice, due to the fact you can go via Arche, Fabriano, Magnani, Saunders Waterford etc. Up to you to go for the ‘texture’ you want (from Henk Thijs).

Doesn’t work:

  • Most modern papers are supercoated and this doesn’t work very well with Bromoils. RC – Resin Coated papers work better.

Carbon printing:

Some more feedback from carbon printers – and everyone else of course – is very welcome!

Works:

  • Develop and fix a blank piece of fiber paper to transfer the final image onto. For the carbon tissue inexpensive water color papers with a smooth texture have worked just fine for me (as long as they were soaked and dried once) (from Ashley Fetterman).

Doesn’t work:

  • Doesn’t work: had a hard time sizing my own paper and making it work (from Ashley Fetterman).


Chrysotype process:

Some more feedback from ‘chrysotypers’ – and everyone else of course – is very welcome!

Works:

  • For the New Chrysotype process: Talbot; Fabriano 5; Arches Aquarelle and other gelatin sized papers (for red tones); Buxton; Wyndstone vellum and Cranes for blue-black.

Doesn’t work:

  • -


Cyanotype process:

Arches and Fabriano papers seem to be favourites amongst many cyanotype artists and Buxton and Hahnemühle are also recommended, but keep sending in your favourites.

Works:

  • Arches platine, cranes platinotype and buxton work well for any iron processes. (by 2 anonymous contributors).
  • Arches Platine, Arches 90# hot press watercolor, Rives Lightweight (from Edwardo Aites).
  • Arches hot pressed watercolor paper (from Ivy Bigbee and Ken Sinclair).
  • Arches RKB
  • Arches 140 lb. Hot Pressed paper works very well (from Randi DeLisle).
  • Arches Aquarelle
  • Bergger COT-320 (soft graduation), Arches Platine (soft graduation), Fabriano Artistico grain fine and grain satine (hard graduation) (from Kai Hamann).
  • BFK – Rives (from Wendy Currie).
  • Buxton; Fabriano 5; Silversafe; Cranes cover and parchment (for the New Cyanotype process).
  • Buxton paper for cyanotype I process – a wonderful paper to work with, though, sadly, not inexpensive (from Diana Bloomfield).
  • Canson Sketch: The BACK side of Canson Sketch 120gsm White fine grain paper (from Ole Tjugen).
  • Canson Moulin du gue CP – rag paper (from Wendy Currie).
  • Oliver Wattez's cyanotype printed on Clairefontaine paper.

    Oliver Wattez's cyanotype printed on Clairefontaine paper.

    Clairefontaine – grain 224 g/m2; both sides tested, the rough and the smoother; tested with cyanotype classic solution with solution A stabilized with a few drops of formol. Paper exposed with Ultra-Vitalux bulb at 40 cm for 5 minutes approx – not a perfect solution because the bulb produces an irregular flow of light with an higher level of UV light in the center of the beam; negatives were a polyester transparency negatives for hi-resolution inkjet printers;
    Processing: rinse with cold water and then rinse with white vinegar (1 part of vinegar with 3 parts of water) and finally rinse with water again (from Oliver Wattez).
  • Cranes AS8111
  • Cranes Crest Parchment
  • Fabriano Artistico hot works pretty well (from Barbara Maloney).
  • Fabriano Hot Pressed (from Wendy Currie).
  • Fabriano 5 (from Andrew Parnell).
  • Fabriano 100/100 paper, with Mike Ware’s cyanotype II, it gives the richest toning, other papers tested with less nice results, also Buxton which is excellent but more expensive (from Manfred Raida).
  • Fabriano 100 percent cotton paper, hot press, 140 lb. But cheaper papers often work also – try several (from Karl P. Koenig).
  • Fabrics: Silk – beautiful sheen although a softer cyan with v.pale blue highlights.
    Raw silk – deeper blue but softer image due to the texture of the material.
    Cotton Poplin – thin cotton gives a deeper blue with clean highlights.
    Twill – A thicker cotton which gives excellent results. Has a long tonal range from the deepest blue to clean white highlights (from Wendy Currie).
  • Hahnemühle etching paper (from Neal Oshima).
  • Kozo rice paper – made from mulberries. This is a delicate & translucent paper with a good wet strength. Dry thoroughly to ‘rest’ the paper before toning. (from Wendy Currie).
  • Royal Watercolour Society 300gCP; Hahnemuehle Photorag inkjet paper; Hahnemuehle Torchon inkjet paper (from Malcolm Raggett).
  • Rives BFK and stonehinge (from Nan Wollman and an anonymous contributor).
  • Stonehenge HP 245gsm (from Wendy Currie).
  • Strathmore Bristol – Very smooth surface that holds up to wetting well without roughing. Produces full tonal range and quite sharp prints. Somewhat slow printing allows for more control of exposure and more repeatable results (from Randall Ellis).
  • St. Armand Canal white – works beautifully and requires no acidification. Somewhat more absorbent than the better-known papers. (from Eben Ostby)
  • Whatman Watercolour
  • For the blue I go for, my favorite is Stonehenge and some Hahnemuehle. A must is to try the cheapest brown paper used to wrap boxes and big enveloppes; not the dark brown , but the orangier brown ones. Can be stunning (from Henk Thijs).

     

  • Both cyanotypes and VanDyke brown prints I make on either Arches bright white 140lb. cold press or white Rives BFK. Both processes work well on these papers. The main difference is the Arches paper has a prominent texture, while the Rives BFK is smooth textured. I find that exposure times are slightly longer when using Arches for VanDyke browns than with Rives BFK. Van Dyke solution is more likely to streak when coating on Rives BFK than with Arches (from Tyler Hewitt).
  • Watercolour paper (from Jo Mills)
  • Most every watercolor or printmaking paper I’ve used works. My favorites: Fabriano Artistico 180lb hot pressed & soft press in bright white or traditional white; and hot pressed 300 lb Fabriano or Arches. I’ve used 100% rag printmaking papers and watercolor papers with excellent results. Not only that, the cyanotype images are still fresh 25 years later. (from Rebecca Bushner).
  • Both cyanotypes and VanDyke brown prints I make on either Arches bright white 140lb. cold press or white Rives BFK. Both processes work well on these papers. The main difference is the Arches paper has a prominent texture, while the Rives BFK is smooth textured. I find that exposure times are slightly longer when using Arches for VanDyke browns than with Rives BFK. Van Dyke solution is more likely to streak when coating on Rives BFK than with Arches (from Tyler Hewitt).

Doesn’t work:

  • Canson Sketch: The FRONT side of Canson Sketch 120gsm White fine grai. paper (from Ole Tjugen).
  • Fabric that doesn’t work is synthetics (from Wendy Currie).
  • Papers buffered with chalk (calcium carbonate). Avoid chalk-buffered papers for processes using ferrioxalate sensitizers (precipitates calcium oxalate and hydrolyses the iron(III)).
  • Kentmere Classic II (from Malcolm Raggett).
  • Arches cold press (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • All water color paper (from Nan Wollman).
  • Anything under 70lb wrinkles too much when wet, some kozo papers are hard to work with. I try to avoid sized paper (from Rebecca Bushner).
  • Man-made fabrics like bandages or packing materials (from Jo Mills)

Cyanotype II

  • Rising Stonehenge is the best available – as good as the results I had with the now unavailable(?) Rising Gallery 100. I use lead acetate toner for a cobalt shadow/grey hilights coloration. Do not – I repeat, do not use hydrogen peroxide to quick-darken the prints. It reduces the shadow density noticeably, and since removing this instant-gratification step from my procedure, has allowed me to produce nothing but perfect coloration. (from Felix B)

Gum printing:

Fabriano looks like a favourite amongst gum printers.

Works:

  • BFK – Rives – excellent results (from Wendy Currie).
  • Buxton 160 gsm; (240 gsm better for multiple coats) – for single-coat gum printing.
  • Fabriano Artistico hot 300gsm, Fabriano 5 300gsm, Somerset Satin 300gsm, Bockingford 300gsm, Daler Rowney-The Langton 300gsm (from Julian Smart).
  • Rives BFK if you size it first, Fabriano Artistico with or without

    sizing, Fabriano Classico, Magnani Pescia, Waterford (from Christina Z. Anderson).
  • All papers, i.e., any paper that can withstand water for a half hour can be used to make great gum
    photos. The best paper for the beginner, i.e., the most consistent and easy to use, is certainly Fabriano Uno 140lb hot press. All the other ones have been iffy at times, and I’ve tried them all. I prefer the look of Artistico, but they mess that stuff up quite alot. (from Keith Gerling).
  • After a lot of testing, I came to Saunders Waterford, the Fabriano’s and Magnani (from Henk Thijs).
  • For gum bichromates, I use Arches bright white 140lb. cold press. It is easy to work with, and I find the texture of this paper appealing (from Tyler Hewitt).
  • I’m using a superb watercolour paper made by Cartiera Magnani, Portofino Acquarello, 300gr/sq, smooth surface, but I find a good paper also the Fabriano F4 220gr/sq, smooth surface for single layer prints. The Fabriano Watercolour Studio, cotton content, cold pressed,
    300 gr/sq. is too rough (from Alessandro Jazeolla).

Doesn’t work:

  • Avoid chalk-buffered papers for processes using ferrioxalate sensitizers (precipitates calcium oxalate and hydrolyses the iron(III)).
  • Arches 88 or any paper that does not withstand long wet times (from Christina Z. Anderson).
  • Long soaking requires strong papers. Not too smooth in my experience. The gum arabic needs to stick to the texture. A paper that is too smooth may wash away the arabic.

Kallitypes:

Works:

  • Fabriano artistico, Schoellerhammer Durex and 3G. Fabrics also work well, like for the cyanotype.
  • Crane’s Platinotype, Arches Platine, Bristol 2-ply Rising and Stonehenge Rising (from Sandy King)
  • Arches Platine is the winner, with Platinotype a close second. (from Felix B)

Doesn’t work:

  • Weak papers. The paper is wet for a very long time, and weak papers will fall apart. Rivers BFK may have to be seized.

Oilprints:

Works:

  • This is tricky. I tried the Magnani, Arche etc. but what worked best for me in the end was Fabriano Uno; when I want to buy a lot of the stuff, it was not produced anymore; I switched to Fabriano no 5 300grs, and was not happy at all. By accident I got a sheet of Fabriano nr 5 , but the 350 grs and this one worked great for me. For the Magnani, the only one I was happy with, was the Magnani Litho 300 grs, the others were ‘to hairy’ (from Henk Thijs)

Doesn’t work:

  • Anyone?

Photo intaglio:

BFK Rivers is recommended by both the intaglio printers that sent in their votes, any more?

Works:

  • For photo intaglio, I use Rives BFK, Fabriano Artistico, or variou.
    other acid-free printmaking or water color papers (from Barbara Maloney).
  • BFK Rivers, Hahnemuhle. Etching, magnami, velin arches, somerset and lana papers also work.

Doesn’t work:

  • -

Lith printing:

See Tim Rudman’s comprehensive update on lithprinting materials.


Platinum and palladium printing:

Buxton, Arches and Cranes tops the pt/pd list so far. Any other papers that work?

Works:

  • Arches hot press (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • Arches Platine, Cranes Platinotype, Cranes Cover, Stonehenge (from Bruce Beck).
  • Arches Platine, Bergger COT-320, Rising Artist Drawing Bristol (from Neal Oshima).
  • Arches platine, Cranes special platinum papers, Buxton papers, Schoellerhammer Durex and 3G, Strathmore and Rising.
  • Buxton; Fabriano 5; Silversafe; Cranes cover and parchment, and many others – for Print-out Palladium printing.
  • Buxton; some Cranes papers (the more acidic ones) – for print-out 100% platinum printing (very much more choosy than palladium).
  • Crane Cover, Arches Platine, Buxton (from Philippe Ayral).
  • Arches Platine again, though a bit more difficult to clear than Platinotype, which is a close second. (from Felix B)
  • Cot320 is impossible to find, so I have been using Arches Platine. I use potassium oxalate for developer but have had problems with yellow stain even after mixing a new batch of developer. I have found that a tablespoon of Sodium Sulfite in the first two tetrasodium EDTA clearing baths removes the yellow. (from Judy O’Dell)
  • St. Armand Canal white – works beautifully and requires no acidification. Somewhat more absorbent than the better-known papers. (from Eben Ostby)

Doesn’t work:

  • Arches Aquarelle, Socorro (from Bruce Beck).
  • Papers buffered with much chalk. Avoid gelatin-sized papers for pure platinum printing (gelatin bind.
    to platinum(II) making it hard to reduce to metal).
  • Thin papers will fall apart!


Polaroid emulsion lifts on:

Works:

  • Canvas board, some types of wood, some textured glass surfaces (from Scott Wittenburg).
  • Arches hot press 150  lb watercolor paper.  I have also placed lifts onto blank CDs (the clear ones that often are packed on tops of bulk/blank CDs).  It’s fun and a bit of a mind/spatial challenge to curl multiple lifts around the CD’s circular format, so plan ahead and get a rough idea of what your composition will be. I am working with images of Cirque du Soleil within that construct.  After lifting to the CD, to protect the fragile emulsion, coat the dried lift with slightly diluted Hyplar Gel, then complete the image by painting the underneath side with white acrylic ( which simulates the pape.
    backing of more traditional receptors).  I am now experimenting with emulsion lifts onto opalescent glass shards (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • All works (from Christina Z. Anderson).
  • Winsor & Newton 300gsm 100% acid free paper (from Tina Maas).

Doesn’t work:

  • Many cloth surfaces, many smooth, polished metals such as stainless steel and aluminum (from Scott Wittenburg).
  • Hardly anything! (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • Thin paper – wet paper curls (from Tina Maas).


Polaroid transfers:

Works:

  • Arches 90 or 140 lb. rough hot-pressed watercolor paper (from Scott Wittenburg).
  • Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper, 140#, 90# – has a lot of gelatin sizing which helps the dyes migrate to a compatible surface. I use it with added gelatin soaking.
    Kitikata oriental "rice paper" – thin but very strong – difficult but gives a very different look – should be misted rather than soaked before transfer Kozo oriental "rice paper" – stronger white than Kitikata, should be misted rather than soaked before transfer. (from Edwardo Aites)
  • Fabriano Uno Hot Pressed – now Artistico (from Christina Z. Anderson).
  • Arches Hot Press watercolor paper (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • Rives BFK and stonehinge (from Nan Wollman).

Doesn’t work:

  • Paper with a consistent pattern or texture (from Scott Wittenburg).

Saltprint process:

Works:

  • Arches Hot Press (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • Buxton, Silversafe, Fabriano.
  • Arches Platine; Fabriano5 300gHP; Saunders Waterford 300gCP; Hahnemuehle Photorag inkjet paper; Hahnemuehle Torchon inkjet paper (from Malcolm Raggett).

Doesn’t work:

  • Whatman 270gCP; Kentmere Classic II (from Malcolm Raggett).


Satista prints:

Works:

  • Idem (from Philippe Ayral).

Doesn’t work:

  • -

 

Temperaprints:

Works:

  • For temperaprints, I use yupo (from Barbara Maloney).

Doesn’t work:

  • -

 

Vandyke process:

Works:

  • Arches 90# hot press watercolor – again, heavily sized with gelatin helps to keep sensitizer and resulting print on surface rather than sinking into the fibers (from Edwardo Aites).
  • Buxton; Fabriano 5; Silversafe; Cranes; Whatman.
  • Canson Sketch: The BACK side of Canson Sketch 120gsm White fine grain paper (Ole Tjugen).
  • Fabriano Artistico 300gsm hot, Bockingford 300gsm (from Julian Smart).
  • Vandyke Brown: Hahnemühle etching paper (from Neal Oshima).
  • Canson Lavis Technique, Lana Royal White, Cotman Take (Japanese for bamboo) Bristol, Rising Stonehenge White, Rising Stonehenge Warm White, Rising Gallery 100 and Holbein albireo (from Wynn White)
  • Works: Both cyanotypes and VanDyke brown prints I make on either Arches bright white 140lb. cold press or white Rives BFK. Both processes work well on these papers. The main difference is the Arches paper has a prominent texture, while the Rives BFK is smooth textured. I find that exposure times are slightly longer when using Arches for VanDyke browns than with Rives BFK. Van Dyke solution is more likely to streak when coating on Rives BFK than with Arches (from Tyler Hewitt).

Doesn’t work:

  • Canson Sketch: The FRONT side of Canson Sketch 120gsm White fine grain paper (Ole Tjugen).
  • Cartridge paper, though some may disagree (from Julian Smart).
  • Stonehenge Rising – prints seem duller and lacking in contrast (from Edwardo Aites).


Ziatypes:

Works:

  • Idem (from Philippe Ayral).

Doesn’t work:

  • -

 

Transparency papers and inks for making digital negatives:

Works:

  • I use ordinary paper for the laser printer and oil it with vegetable oil for use with most processes. When I make solar plates, I use laser printer acetates (from Barbara Maloney).
  • Always use transparancy papers made by the printer manufacturer. For example Epson transparancies work well with Epson printers.
  • For the Epson 2200, any cheapy ink jet transparency from Staples or Office Max such as Apollo, 3M, Staples brand.  Best is really Photo Warehouse which comes in 11×17 and rolls, and is not bumpy on one side (lick finger and see if it sticks to determine printable side). (From Christina Z. Anderson).
  • Canon 9000 with the original inks. Transparencies: Pictorico (AGA Chemicals USA), Agfa Copyjet (available via Lotus View Camera in small quantities), Epson transparencies. All others were inferior to disasterous (from Kai Hamann).
  • Pictorico OHP+Lyson Quad inks (from Julian Smart).
  • Polycopy works for the colour laser printer its a photocopier film 25c p.sheet – excellent for printing cyanotypes, but you need to boost the contrast in photoshop first (from Wendy Currie)
  • Simili japon in an A3 Epson printer works perfect for me. To make transparent I use sunfloweroil; it seems to be the best choice in the long run (from Henk Thijs).
  • Permajet OHP Transfer film (from Andrew Parnell).
  • Chartpak brand "Ultra Black, Black or Super Black markers and Prismacolor brand black markers seem to be the best brand for drawing on acetate (from Rebecca Bushner).
  • Standard photocopying acetate printed with laserjet (from Jo Mills)
  • Any brand from the local office supply store with HP inkjet printer (from Rebecca Bushner).

Doesn’t work:

  • Pictorico OHP+Epson 1290 OEM (colour)inks. The black Epson and colour Lyson Quads work well as a cocktail! (from Julian Smart).
  • I’ve used several brands of transparency film and the results are similar enough that I don’t care what brand I buy, just whatever is least expensive (from Rebecca Bushner).

 

Tips on choosing paper:

  • Avoid chalk-buffered papers for processes using ferrioxalate sensitizers (precipitates calcium oxalate and hydrolyses the iron(III).
  • Avoid gelatin-sized papers for pure platinum printing (gelatin binds to platinum(II) making it hard to reduce to metal).
  • Most quality papers will work for Gum, some need shrinking and sizing, some just need shrinking – all react differently to any of the variables so go with a surface and colour that you like and experiment around that. Don’t expect perfect consistency between batches of the same paper (from Julian Smart).
  • I am finding that many of the high-quality matt heavyweight inkjet papers are suitable for the processes I’ve tried (Cyanotypes and Saltprints), which extends the choice and availability of papers quite a lot. (from Malcolm Raggett).
  • If you wish to digitally archive and output your alternative photography originals,  I recommend the superb Red River Polar Gloss (or matt if more suitable for limited editions) papers. Re.
    River’s Premium Matte delivers velvety digital output of original prints; RR’s Polar Gloss is tack sharp and vivid.  I output to the latter surface when submitting editorial work, or guide prints accompanying digital files to my stock photo rep, SuperStock, Inc. (from Ivy Bigbee).
  • I’ve learned to mistrust former digital printing inks and afterward the artificial sizings and other chemicals for stabilizing inks with color and tri/quad grey inks. Some inks are pretty good now but in countermove the papers are ridiculous. It’s best to stay close to absolutely conservative paper companies and the more and longer they are dependent on their reliability the better.
    Unfortunately I didn´t manage to get plain paper sheets made for bank notes or shares till now – that stuff is monitored to be more durable than all other papers and the sizing and surface is tempting for me. Lucky me that old shares are available by the pound and the backside is often clean (from Kai Hamann).
  • Cranes Platinotype is very handsome but unfortunately inconsistent, subject to strange ghosting of sensitizer into the paper outside the border as the print dries.  The image itself, however, stays put. It seems more heavily sized than Cranes Cover and requires long rest after coating before drying. Otherwise you can expect a lot of slippage.  The bright white in both Cranes papers is heavily blued and produces odd image color that is not to my taste but might be good for some work.  But what about the archival quality?  I would appreciate hearing about a warm white paper that is as beautiful as Platinotype can be, yet more reliable.  Haven’tt tried COT-320 yet (from Bruce Beck).

 

Good luck with trying new papers.


4 Comments

  1. kayla sorrell
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    i like ecohighlights paper my pictures came out so much clearer.

  2. Posted June 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    cyanotype

    Works extremely well: Lana Lanaquarelle 86 lbs hot pressed cotton water color paper

    Does not work: Stonehenge cotton printing paper.

  3. Bart O'Reilly
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Has anyone ever made a Van Dyke print on Mylar? If so does it need to be sized with Gelatin? Any advise would be a great help. Thanks

  4. Robert Arctor
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Some papers that I have been playing around with lately for both Palladium and Cyanotype: Bienfang 360 Marker pad, and Canson Marker pad. Bienfang seems to be better suited for both processes, but the noticeable weave kind of puts me off from using it. Canson seems to hold saturation not as well, but has almost no visible paper grain. I’d love to try a proper rice paper if I can get around to tracking some down.

    For my job, I’m using Arches Aquarelle, but lately have been having trouble with splotchiness and just general inconsistencies. For two years I had no problems with it, and now this!

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Van Dyke Brown part1 « TheodoorThomas on March 8, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    [...] paper I could find. In my case that was still 100% cotton and it worked fine. Want to know more, check here they keep a list of what papers work well. And here and explanatory video on [...]

  2. [...] do so by trying different ones and making your choice based on experience.  You can refer to the Paper Survey at the Alternative Photography website for community information about papers and various [...]

  3. [...] do so by trying different ones and making your choice based on experience.  You can refer to the Paper Survey at the Alternative Photography website for community information about papers and various [...]

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