Paper Choices for Competition

Posted by Jonathan Penney on 17th Nov 2016

Over the years, we have printed thousands of competition prints for both WPPI and PPA; one of the most common questions is "what paper should I choose?"

Papers for competition fall into 2 basic categories; matte or luster.  In general, matte papers work well with most images, but cannot provide the depth of black or shadow separation of the luster papers.  Luster papers will excel with low key or high saturation images. Matte papers pair well with fine art, high key, or soft color imagery.

The most common choice for a luster finish paper is the Kodak Lustre Photo Paper; for matte paper it is the Canson Rag Photographique.

Here are more details on these two papers:

Kodak Lustre Photo Paper

This paper has a classic photo luster finish that performs well under competition lighting with a minimum of reflective glare. It is excellent for brilliant color and especially for "low key" images. Print tonality holds up well under strong competition lights because images can be printed especially "deep". It is excellent for black and white images because it provides the deepest black and best shadow detail. This paper is not typically paired with a float mount/deckle edged presentation, but in an 8 ply bevel cut mat and optional 1/4" white border reveal it is truly elegant. We stock this paper for those that want to compete for a Kodak Gallery Award.

Canson Rag Photographique

This is a smooth surface matte paper, an "all-around" paper for competition prints. Excellent for images that have a "fine art" feel, it is well matched to full color images as well as sepia and muted color looks. It performs well with images of medium to "high key" tonality, but for "low key" images where much of the "story" is way down in the low tones, this paper will not perform as well as the luster paper.  When a float mount/deckle edged print presentation is used, this paper is ideal.  

And here are some other papers that we offer: 

Watercolor Paper - Canson BFK Rives

This is a TEXTURED matte paper, excellent for images that have a "fine art" feel. Printing characteristics are similar to the smooth matte (Canson Rag Photographique, above)

Semi-gloss Fiber  - Epson Exhibition Fiber

This paper has a rich, soft-gloss finish that looks and feels just like the beautiful darkroom fiber papers from years ago. Tonal characteristics would be similar to the Luster Paper (above)

Metallic Luster - Epson Metallic Photo Paper Luster

This is a specialized paper that can add a stunning visual dimension to the properly chosen image, especially product photos, cars, motorcycles, some wedding detail images (ring shots, etc.), some landscapes and certain types of BW or monochrome images. Images with specular highlights work best; that is where the metallic effect will be the strongest. "Low key" images may not display the effect as well. The metallic look and might not pair well with "fine art" imagery.

We are still taking competition print orders!

You can place your WPPI competition print order up to Dec. 15th, 2016 and we will drop ship your prints directly to Jason Groupp at WPPI.

Gallery of past competition prints

Order PPA competition prints here

Unsure of what paper to choose? Select the "Printmaker's Choice" option when you place your print order

Need help placing your order? Call Jonathan at 631-874-3409

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