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I am honored and humbled once again to be a guest artist with Canson Infinity at this year’s 2015 PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC from Oct 22-24.

I’ll be in attendance all three days explaining why I think Canson makes the best fine art paper on the market and answering questions about all things photography. While the days are long and grueling, I enjoy chatting with all of the people that visit the booth as well as saying hello to old and new friends. And my work gets seen by thousands of people, which is something I never take for granted. I’m often asked about my relationship with Canson, so I thought I would share some of the details.

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Becoming a Canson Ambassador

My relationship with Canson Infinity started over five years ago when I visited PhotoPlus as an attendee, and noticed their distinctive black sign for the first time. I had already been using their paper based on a recommendation from my local dealer but had never seen them before at the convention. I made a beeline for their booth, excited to share what I carried.

In my backpack was a freshly printed copy of my 8.5×11 Hudson Valley folio, comprised of 10 fine art prints together with a title page and an elegant cover and custom label. Critically, it was printed on Canson Edition Etching Rag, which had become my favorite paper at the time. I had brought it with me for promotional purposes but didn’t have any specific person or company in mind. That is until I saw the Canson banner.

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As I approached their booth, the first thing I noticed was the quality of the photography on the walls. It was more than just the quality of the prints. It was obvious to me they cared as much about the paper as they did about the images. And that made an impression on me. I introduced myself and asked if they might be interested in looking at my folio that was printed on their paper. One thing slowly lead to another and six months later was invited to their American headquarters in Massachusetts and asked I wanted to become an ambassador. My role is basically to promote their papers in any way I’d like, as well as help with product development and provide feedback on current papers.

In an age of commercialism and profits driven marketing, it’s refreshing to work with a company that puts the interests of the artist first. Landscape photography is already unbelievably competitive, and I pride myself on using the finest materials I can find. When a customer purchases a print, I’m confident in knowing they’re getting the very best I can produce as a photographer and printmaker. The differences may be subtle, but are still critically important. I want to earn the trust of my customers. The best way to do that is to show that the details matter. So I continue to recommend Canson paper without hesitation in my printing workshops, and anywhere I share my print portfolio.

Selecting and Printing Images

For this year’s expo, I sent about a dozen images to Canson for evaluation, and they picked seven with some paper recommendations and specific sizes. However, they let me have the final decision as far as paper, and I print them myself in my studio. I then send the prints to Canson to be mounted onto gatorboard and prepared for the expo.

As I discuss at length in my printing workshops , paper selection is based on subject matter, and the overall mood and feel of each image and what I’m trying to convey. Sometimes that requires more contrast and shadow depth. For other images, I prefer a softer, quieter feel that adds nuance to the light and textures in the image. It ultimately depends on my vision for each print, separate and distinct from the image on screen. Prints take on a physical life of their own, and I love that I can hold something I created.

I’ve shared each of the images below as well as the paper choices and brief notes. I hope it gives you some insight into paper selection and how critical personal vision is.

Canyon Trail, UT

Printed on Canson Platine Fibre Rag/Canon ipf8400 – complements the deep shadows, hard edges, and dramatic light that I want to emphasize. I felt in awe at the time, and I want the print to convey the real depth and richness of that experience.

Cove Light, TN

Printed on Canson Edition Etching Rag/Canon ipf8400- mood and feel are the main goals here created by the soft ethereal light, and Edition Rag’s mat finish with a slight texture adds depth and maintains the quiet nature of the image.

Printed on Canson Velin Museum Rag/Epson 3880- lots of texture and detail, and rich color means I want a paper that doesn’t get in the way. A beautiful rag mat paper like Velin maintains the rich color and adds a subtle slight texture that complements the image. Smoothness is paramount because of the subject matter, which is jagged and edgy.

Printed on Canson Velin Museum Rag/Epson 3880- similar to the previous image, a rag paper like Velin maintains the overall mood and feel of the moment without compromising color or detail.

Printed on Canson Rag Photographique/Canon ipf8400- this image was a challenge due to the deep shadows and sharp and distinct details. I made prints on both Platine Fibre Rag and Rag Photographique and ultimately decided on the latter because I preferred the more subtle look and feel of the mat paper. Plus the ultra smooth finish of Photographique complements both the smooth sky and water given all the detail and texture.

Hadlock Light, ME

Printed on Canson Platine Fibre Rag/Canon ipf8400- another tough image to make and print, but I chose Platine Fibre Rag for that extra separation in the dense grasses in the foreground and also the presence it adds to the clouds and forest along the opposite shoreline. It’s less about subtlety and more about emphasizing contrasts in the image.

Marsh Lines, Acadia NP

Printed on Canson Edition Etching Rag/Canon ipf8400 – while this image has lots of texture and detail, it’s the colors and patterns I want to emphasize together with the broader shapes and how it leads the viewer through the image. It’s movement and flow more that any specific area of the image, and Edition conveys all of that without compromising detail. Once again, it’s the smoothness, or harmony, I’m interested in most.

All of these decision are a matter of personal preference and totally subjective. That’s why you will never hear me recommend a specific paper for any broad category of images. The best paper for black and white images doesn’t exist. What does exist is the paper that best complements your artistic vision for an image, regardless of the subject matter or techniques you use. The image and personal preference should dictate the paper choice, not the other way around. 

Thanks as always for reading, and comments or questions are always welcome – please leave them below!

RR Jr

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This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. Congratulations! …and thanks for the valuable information once again. Hope soon I can have something printed in different papers so I can start understanding these subtle differences you mentioned.

  2. Thanks for the info. Great images and explanations. While I don’t print, I have always been tempted, as print to screen matching with the printing service I use is always a challenge. Thanks for your blog, and perhaps one day I can make it to the east for one of your workshops.

  3. Until I took your Fine Art Printing workshop this past February, I never really thought about what I would do with an image once I had captured it and modified it in post. As you wrote in one of your blog posts (“Success stories: how a printing workshop changes everything for a student”), the workshop transformed me and made me realize that I needed to print my images in order to develop and realize my photographic vision.

    Since your workshop, I’ve treated the printed image as the final test of my photographic process; everything I do from the moment before I press the shutter to post-processing is designed with the printed image in mind.

    I’ve worked with several different papers over the past seven months and I’ve learned to appreciate how different papers capture mood, light, and sharpness differently, but this blog post shows me how much more I have to learn. If you ever develop a workshop that allows participants to discover more of the nuances and subtleties you’ve discussed here, please sign me up.

    As always, thank you for sharing your valuable insights and experience so freely.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Craig – really appreciate it. And yes I am working on some new advanced printing workshops for 2016. More info coming soon.

      RR

  4. Velin Museum, Rag Photographique, and Printmaking Rag are three of my current favorites. Sometimes an image says, how about me on Platine? It’s often a good choice, but for the sake of fewer matte-glossy ink changes, which matte paper in the Canson lineup is closest to Platine?

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