Today we visited the Print Space in London for a tour of their studios and to each get a free print. Dave at the Print Space began by telling us that they opened four and a half years ago wanting to adopt a different way of working. Here they use an open-loop system where photographers prepare the files for themselves, therefore enabling them to manage the printing and keep control of the editing. This way of working is more cost effective and faster; the turn around time for some prints is under two hours. Dave advised us to work on calibrated screens whenever possible (they offer a free screen calibration service) and view images in neutral surroundings with subtle lighting to get the most accurate results. The Print Space has viewing rooms to hire for the ideal viewing environment.
The different types of paper were shown to us with example prints to pass around as Dave described them to us. There were two main types of paper; the C-type and the inkjet. The main difference being that the C-type was more robust for handling. But whilst both had a life of 40years in daylight, C-type only had a life of 80years in darkness, whereas inkjet had a life of 200years. Another difference to be aware of was colour. Inkjet does better brightness of colour but only does 256 colours per square inch, whereas C-type can do 16million per square inch making the gradients and black detail much better on this type of paper. This is because the C-type paper is light sensitive; all images processed through film are C-type and digital images on C-type paper uses LED’s. With this in mind we had a look at the different types of C-type and Inkjet paper available.
C-type Matt: Costing around £7.60 for an A3 16X12” print this paper was the most popular.
C-type Gloss: The gloss was the same price but gave a bit more of a mirroring effect on the dark areas.
C-type Fuji Flex: You could see a brighter effect with the colours on this one and was a little more expensive at £9.50 for an A3 16X12” print.
Kodak Metallic: This suited colourful images but also made black and white images stand out with an almost 3D effect making mid-tone greys appear silver. This one was £9.50 for an A3 16X12” print.
The inkjet papers were all the same price; £9.35 for an A3 16X12” print.
Canson Bartya Gloss: I liked this paper, as it was similar to fibre-based paper.
Giclee Harman Warmtone: This paper was good to soften highlights because of its warm tone base.
Giclee Hahnemule Pearl: This paper was popularly used for black and white images but I liked it for its slight shine and texture.
Giclee Hahnemule Photorag: I also liked the chalky texture of this paper which was matt and again especially good for black and white.
German Etching Hahnemule: This paper was similar to the Photorag but more textured.
Arches Aquarelle: This matt paper was popular for graphic art images.
They also offer the chance to make test strips on the papers to see how your images differ on the different types of paper.
Dave also showed us some examples of the mounting materials available.
Card 2mm: This was the cheapest at around £7 and is light to hang but also very soft.
Foamboard 5mm/10mm: This material was also soft and usually used for temporary exhibiting, but was light enough to hang with Velcro, costing £10.52.
Foam-ex 3mm/5mm: The foam-ex was much stronger than the foamboard but still light enough to hang with Velcro and came in PVC black or white suitable for framing. It cost between £10-£15.
MDF 12mm: Costing around £17 this was strong, thick but also considerably heavier so anything bigger than A4 would need hanging with fixtures such as a keyhole fixture that allows the print to sit flat to the wall.
Aluminium: Costing between £37-£55 this looked good with metallic prints and came with split batons for easy hanging. I liked this one however aluminium can warp slightly in hot temperatures.
Diabond: A composite of aluminium, this was very similar to the aluminium mounting and the same price but lighter and can be sealed with acrylic to protect the surface of the print.
Acrylic Reverse: This was acrylic backed onto aluminium. It was one of my favouries as you could polish the acrylic to remove any scratches, but was the most expensive at £98 for a 16×12” print. Trust me to like the most expensive.
Pretty much any of the papers could be mounted in any of these ways except it was not advisable to mount Fuji-Flex on MDF, and the Acrylic Reverse worked better with smooth un-textured papers. If hanging with Velcro Dave shared a tip with us to place it all around the edge of the picture but also in the middle to stop it bending in the middle. He also advised us that mounting normally takes 5-10 days at the Print Space but may take longer around the time of our degree show when they get busier.
Next we saw some examples of retouching that had been done at the Print Space. We saw how the Grolsch advert had been put together from different images, and how celebrity portraits get transformed such as the one of Gwen Stephani that we saw.
Ready for us to prepare our files for our free print, Dave instructed us how to use their simple drag and drop system. We were invited to help ourselves to free tea, coffee and biscuits at their open house kitchen and take a break before setting up a folder to get our prints started.
It was interesting to see their inkjet printers go up to 60”x10m and their C-type printers can do 30×40” prints. I chose to print one of the images from the SPLD unit at the school I had been working at. It was good to be able to take a copy home to compare to other printing services I could use. I was impressed that the Print Space was welcoming and would help you to get the best out of your images. I particularly liked that you can do test strips as I would want to do this before committing to a large print.