Hope everyone has had a nice weekend. I was thinking about my trip to the Smoky Mountains and I guess I got the "feeling of the Smokies" again so I went ahead and processed this one. This scene is just off the road driving down "Newfound Gap Road"
What a lovely place this is.
I made a couple of print tests with this one. My favorite media surface for this type of photos has always been a matt surface. However, I decided to run 3 different tests just to look closely into the contrast difference, DMax levels and overall contrast/color rendition in all copies. My 3 papers were:
Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta
Hahnemuhle Photo Museum Etching
Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth
The Baryta surface did as expected. Simply splendid. Deep DMax (for those who are not familiar with this term, it simply means how deep the blacks are in the print) contrast is superb and the color rendition is perfect. Of course, the semigloss surface is there.
The Museum Etching is a wonderful thick media, its consistency is excellent, you feel you have a sturdy piece if fine art in your hands. DMax as expected from a Matt surface paper is slightly less intense than any semi-gloss and glossy paper, but, with a little adjustment during soft proofing you can obtain the desired result. However, due to its textured surface, the rendition of the areas in the photo where there is high frequency (branches & leaves) the final image may not look its best when viewed at an angle. The contrast and colors are also nothing short of beautiful.
Photo Rag Ultra Smooth is the winner for me in this comparison. Let me make it clear that the 2 previous tests are excellent in quality and I would not hesitate for a minute to print and sell my images in any of them and feel proud to see them hanging in any wall. My point here is how does the image at hand looks its best.
The Ultra Smooth Matt surface is absolutely exquisite for photos with this type of subject. When there is high frequency in a photo the best paper will always be a flat/smooth surface so the viewer can appreciate the detail from any angle the photograph is viewed. The quality of Photo Rag Ultra Smooth no doubt unsurpassed by its competitors. It is a "warmish" paper which in itself renders a mood to the photo and this particular scene is definitely enhanced by it. In this case I prefer not to have a very deep DMax so the paper is perfect. The ultra smooth surface is the very best for the image as well because it excels in detail. The colors and contrast are captured exquisitely as well.
So if you prefer to exhibit your fine art piece in a semi-glossy surface and want a little extra punch in contrast, I recommend to have it printed in the Baryta surface. Is you like a more subtle but still accurate to what you see in your monitor and want no reflexion whatsoever, then go with the Ultra Smooth surface.
I love describing this part of the process of the making of a fine art image as much as I love making the image and post processing because it is a wonderful experience to print in media that you can fully trust.
The Smoky Mountains is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I truly believe that. As a photographer you can travel there any time in the year and come back with beautiful images of the same places you have worked before and yet, the colors and the moods will always vary.
I hope you all have a great week ahead. Keep shooting the landscape and enjoy the colors and shapes we have been blessed with in the outdoors!