I was under the impression at first that Optical Brighteners were a bad thing. That if used they would greatly reduce the archival life of a print. The more I read it seems this is not really true. What is possible is the paper could loose some of it brightness over time depending on how it is displayed and so on. So what do you all think of the OBA's? Do you tend to shy away from them? Or if your particular image needs them or looks better with them do you use papers that have them and is it of much concern?
I have always liked the different feel & textures of photo papers, all the way back to my darkroom days, in high school no less. Where do some of you draw the line in paper weights to print on for your fine art works? I tend to like papers that are around 300gsm + for fine art photographic prints. I guess my ideal range would be from 285 to 360. This is one of the reasons the I'm a little shy of using the Red River Aurora Fine Art paper, it is only 250gsm and I don't want my prints to feel poor in the hand. They don't really offer anything heavier but it has been many years since I have held many different papers so what are your thoughts on paper weights.
Scott Martin Sternberg
Scotts Fine Art
#1. "RE: Optical Brighteners & Paper Weights" | In response to Reply # 0esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Sat 01-Sep-12 03:25 PM
OBA's are a controversial subject, for sure. Does it deserve this controversy? I think it did some years ago but from what I have read over the last couple of years is that the artificial brightners used today are much less susceptible to having the fluorescent material fade over time and are more stable. OBA's don't really affect archivability since it has no impact on the degradation of the ink on the paper it is simply a shift in the brightness of the paper over time and hence changing how the ink reflects light. Some say that what you see in a print where the OBA's have lost their ability fluoresce is what you would see in a print made with natural (warm toned) paper. Maybe to a degree, since the paper profile used for the optically brightened paper would have taken into account the brightness of the paper and vice versa for a profile made for a natural paper.
I do not shy away from using bright white papers when I think it is the right choice for the image to be printed. If it is a print made for a sale I will tell the customer beforehand and let them make the decision to go with an OBA paper or a natural one.
esartprints.com Ernesto Santos Photography
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#3. "RE: Optical Brighteners & Paper Weights" | In response to Reply # 0
Besides their potential effect on archival life, optical brightening agents (OBAs) play a significant role in what a print looks like under varying lighting conditions. OBAs work by converting UV light to blue light (peak at 440-nm wavelength). Thus, prints with OBAs will look different under gallery lighting and behind UV-absorbing glass than in sunlight.
This observation seems so fundamental that I don't understand why it is not discussed more on blogs about photography (at least as far as I have seen). Some papers employ a significant amount of OBAs in order to appear very bright. But what use are they when they lose their brightness under common display conditions.
Another slant on the above is to make the most of OBAs by avoiding UV-absorbing glass and making sure the print is viewed under lighting that contains UV. That approach may seem counter intuitive because UV is known to shorten the life of a print, but in certain circumstances, the brightness of the print might be deemed more important than its longevity.
In a recent post #25338 I showed how paper color can affect the appearance of an image and what several papers look like in gallery light. For example, Epson Hot Press Bright looks essentially identical to its Natural version under gallery lighting. So, a print maker might as well tune their images and print on Hot Press Natural, instead of using Hot Press Bright, because the latter will end up looking like the former under most display conditions.
Another finding is that Red River Arctic Polar Satin retains some of its brightness relative to many other papers, even in the absence of UV, indicating that it must use some other means to enhance the blue.
In a post on dpreview, I compared eight popular papers and showed the effect of removing UV on their apparent color.
To better understand how OBAs function, it is worth downloading SpectrumViz . This tool shows the reflectivity of various papers. The peak in the blue at 440 nm caused by OBAs is easy to see. SpectrumViz allows you to determine how much OBAs are used in specific papers, information that is hard to get from the manufacturer or anywhere else.
#4. "RE: Optical Brighteners & Paper Weights" | In response to Reply # 0
Basically I've taken the attitude that the "problem" of OBAs is probably overblown, but like cholesterol it's something I feel better avoiding. So, if there's a paper I really like, the OBAs won't prevent me from using it, but if there's something competitive without, I'd prefer that.
It's true that once the OBAs stop fluorescing, you're basically back to the same as a "natural" paper, so prints shouldn't have worse longevity. However if that's the ultimate look of your print, wouldn't you want to choose a profile for that look in the first place?
Also, Ken raises a good point of OBAs needing UV to fluoresce, meaning they will appear different under a UV-blocking glaze. This probably solves the longevity "problem" but certainly isn't an argument for OBAs
Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery
#5. "RE: Optical Brighteners & Paper Weights" | In response to Reply # 4kmh Nikonian since 04th May 2008Fri 28-Sep-12 02:36 AM | edited Fri 28-Sep-12 02:44 AM by kmh
I am sorry if it seemed I was arguing for OBAs; that was not my intent.
My aim was to bring up a seldom-discussed aspect of OBAs that needs to be considered. It is obvious that in selecting which paper to use, a print maker needs to consider the eventual display conditions. The role played by UV in activating OBAs has to be included in those considerations.