GOLD FIBRE SILK
Weight: 310 gsm
As mentioned in my introduction Gold Fibre Silk (GFS) is a baryta type paper, best described as a paper using a natural fiber based substrate with a layer of barium-sulphate to enhance contrast by providing a highly reflective base and a top coating as an ink receptor. The result of this design is a luxurious paper that feels great in the hand and resembles the old classic black and white papers so popular in the middle twentieth century. While I tested this paper with both color and black and white images I chose to provide this image of a small church in gulf coast town of Riviera, Texas - USA because it so perfectly illustrates the quality of this paper when used with the right photographs. GFS is capable of outstanding contrast levels and the specs support this. With a rated D-max of about 2.3 you can create prints where the blacks and lower quarter tones are rich while the three-quarter tones stand out as bright accents while still holding detail the entire range. This church provides this range of contrast easily. I first tried GFS when it was initially released and there was a slight warm tone to this paper. With this latest sample under the Prestige line it seems that this has been reduced just a bit. Some people object to warm papers and others are not at all bothered by it. One thing that does seem to trigger strong opinions is the use of optical brightening agents (OBA's) to mitigate the naturally present warm tone of fiber papers. GFS does not seem to use OBA's. I'm not so concerned about OBA's with modern papers used with modern pigment inks and quality frame glass. I've stated my position on this in previous articles. If you want to use a bright paper with OBA's because the image at hand looks best with a bright white base then use it. If you like a warm toned paper then there is nothing to worry about, period.
GFS presents what I think is an almost perfect blend of weight, luster, and contrast. It is a great B&W paper while also performing well with color images. In my testing I could not find anything that did not print well on this paper. One of the things that I find objectionable with some inkjet baryta papers is what I call the stippling on the paper’s surface. It seems that they all have this to varying degrees and in many cases the stippling disappears after the print is laid down. GFS has a very fine stipple that is hardly noticeable when the paper is blank and totally disappears when ink is applied.
I consider Gold Fibre Silk to be the finest paper in the Galerie Prestige line. It is very versatile and is as good with B&W as with color. When framed, images on this paper really stand out and seem to jump off the paper.
SMOOTH FINE ART
Weight: 190 gsm
When I first opened the package of 13x19 Smooth Fine Art I was immediately reminded of a watercolor paper. My personal experiences with other watercolor paper have not been stellar. I don’t use this type of paper because I never thought I could find a good use for this type of matte paper and I get such excellent results with other fine art papers that I just simply eliminated it from my stock. I was a little intrigued as to how this paper would perform. The finish on this paper is a rather textured “torchon” style that declares itself when in the hand. It’s a little bit jolting since the paper itself is very light and thin. There is definitely a tone to the paper as well. Because of these traits I was expecting to see that this paper would be fine for some images but probably not at all good for others. The examples I show here were chosen specifically to determine if this would be the case. The wildflowers image above has a very saturated palette and a lot of fine detail. The image below of the fort gate is almost Monotone with a lot of texture. I wanted to see if texture-on-texture would work here.
SFA passed my tests with flying colors. I think I finally found a watercolor paper that I can live with. Aside from the light weight of the paper I was very impressed how well this paper holds detail for a textured finish and how well colors kept their saturation levels. The tone of the paper seems to almost fade into the background and doesn’t interfere with the presentation of the image.
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