Breathing Color Pura Bagasse Fine Art Paper Review (Podcast 484)

Breathing Color Pura Bagasse Fine Art Paper Review (Podcast 484)

Last week I got my hands on a roll each of two new types of fine art paper from my friends at Breathing Color, Pura Bagasse Smooth and Pura Bagasse Textured, so today we’re going to take a look at these excellent new offerings.

First off, one of the most exciting things about these two new media types, is that “Bagasse” is the pulp produced as a byproduct of raw sugar production. This pulp is mixed with cotton to make this paper’s base, so it is the perfect solution for the quality loving photographer or buyer, because the print quality is incredible, as we’ll see, and it’s eco-friendly. No trees were harmed in the production of this fine art media!

Until now, my favorite matte fine art paper has been Breathing Color’s Pura Smooth, and this is still a beautiful media, but if I can get the same archival quality without harming trees in the production, this is a no-brainer for me.

Archival Certification on the Way

Now, as of August 2015, neither of these papers are actually certified as being archival, but that’s just because these papers are so new, they are still in the certification process. The word from the Breathing Color team is that both of these Bagasse papers are en-route to the Fine Art Trade Guild for archival certification, and they are very confident that they’ll pass, because the coating formulation is quite similar to that of the Pura Smooth and Pura Velvet which are both already certified.

[UPDATE: The Bagasse papers are now archival certified. Yey!]

Northern Red Fox

Northern Red Fox

I actually include a certificate of archival quality with Pura Smooth fine art prints that I send to customers, and I think that this adds a nice touch. I fully imagine that by the time I’ve finished my current stock of Pura Smooth, there’ll be a similar certificate available for both of these new papers too.

So, I’ll be replacing my Pura Smooth matte media with Pura Bagasse Smooth, but I’m also very excited about the new Pura Bagasse Textured paper, because I used to love printing to Hahnemühle’s Museum Etching paper which was a beautiful textured media. I moved away from this paper some five years ago, when I found Breathing Color, but I always missed this textured fine art media, so I was very excited to hear about this new offering.

We’ll get into some more details on the paper shortly, but first let’s look at a few photo of some prints I’ve made on Pura Bagasse Textured. First of all, I printed this photo (right) of a Northern Red Fox. I chose this image to see how the texture of the paper added to the texture of the fur and snow, as well as that pale blue background in this photo.

Here is a photo of a part of the print, taken at an angle looking up at the print towards window light coming into my studio. This is perhaps one of the best angles to appreciate the texture that we’re looking at here (below). Click on this to view it larger if necessary.

Photo of Fox Print

Photo of Fox Print

Here too is a 50% magnification crop from the above photo, just of the fur to the left of the foxes nose, which I thought was probably one of the most beautiful parts of the print. The texture really adds so much to the final print here (below). You can see that the texture in the paper has modified the texture in the foxes fur, really enhancing it in my opinion.

50% Crop from the Photo of Fox Print

50% Crop from the Photo of Fox Print

Here is a photo of the top of the foxes ears with the blue background, which is of course just a very smooth blue in the original, and again here, you can see how the texture of the paper has enhanced the image (below). It gives the photo a painterly feel, and for me, because the texture is organic, subtly different for every square inch of this paper, it provides a special uniqueness to each print, that you don’t really get with smoother media.

Photo of Fox Print Blue Background

Photo of Fox Print Blue Background

Another aspect of these papers that I’d like to touch on, is there incredible gamut, or ability to reproduce a wide range of colors. I create my own ICC profiles with X-Rite’s i1 Photo Pro 2 calibration tools, and this gives me the ability to take full control over my printing. I won’t go into detail on this today. If this concept is alien to you, consider picking up my Making the Print ebook from Craft & Vision.

What this does for me though, is enables me to print to my printer with the absolute best color reproduction possible, and bring out the best in the media that I use. If you don’t have the ability to create your own ICC profiles, not to worry. The Breathing Color team have great quality profiles available for you to download for many of the popular printers that are available. The important thing is to ensure that you turn off printer color management, and print with your own profile, be it home-grown, or from Breathing Color.

Fly in the Face of the Gamut Gods

Before I print anything, I hit the D key in Lightroom to jump to the Develop Module, and I then hit the S key, to activate Soft Proofing mode, so that I can select the ICC profile that I will print with, and check that the image will print OK.

As you can see in this screenshot of a flowerscape photo that I printed, Lightroom tells me that there are large areas of the image that should not print accurately. These are all of the bright red patches, which are called gamut warnings. You can adjust the saturation and change your image to bring the colors into gamut, but more and more, I’m simply choosing to ignore these gamut warnings, and just print anyway, as I did here when I sent this photo, without modification, to the printer and my roll of Pura Bagasse Textured paper (below).

Flowerscape on Bagasse Textured Soft-Proof

Flowerscape on Bagasse Textured Soft-Proof

Here now is a photo of a part of the image. I didn’t modify this image in any way for print. I just ignored the gamut warnings, and printed it out, and the printer did a fine job (below). If you aren’t sure things will work out, it’s probably more intelligent not to go straight for a 17 x 24″ print as a test, but I’ve been printing like this for long enough to know that it’s often fine to just go ahead and print.

Flowerscape Print on Bagasse Textured Media

Flowerscape Print on Bagasse Textured Media

As you can see in this photo (above), once again, the texture of the paper has added a beautiful painterly feel to this flowerscape photo. It’s almost as though I’m looking over the shoulder of someone doing a watercolor painting of the scene that I was photographing. Really, I can’t tell you how happy I am that Breathing Color have added this option to their range of fine art papers.

Before we move on, to give you a better reference than the soft-proofing, gamut warning version of this photograph, here’s the original (below).

Spring Poppy Field

Spring Poppy Field

Let’s look at one last example of the beauty of the Pura Bagasse Textured paper before we look at the Smooth. This is a photo from my Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure Tour (below). With a photograph like this, you can certainly go either way, and print on Smooth or Textured, because the smooth looks beautiful too.

Takushinkan Trees in Snow

Takushinkan Trees in Snow

Here’s a photograph of a portion of the print (below). You can see once again that the texture adds so much to the photograph here. It takes the print to a different place, that I for one really enjoy.

Photo of Takushinkan Trees on Pura Bagasse Textured

Photo of Takushinkan Trees on Pura Bagasse Textured

So, what about Pura Bagasse Smooth? The coating is a very similar formula to the Textured paper, although Bagasse smooth sometimes seems to have a very slight yellow tint to it. In this photo, I have added a print on Pura Smooth, which you can see is not as bright a white as the two new Bagasse papers (below). Here you can see Pura Smooth on the left, Bagasse Smooth in the center and Bagasse Textured on the right.

Pura Smooth (left), Bagasse Smooth (center), Bagasse Textured (right)

Pura Smooth (left), Bagasse Smooth (center), Bagasse Textured (right)

The slight difference in the color of Bagasse Smooth is perhaps coming in to play here, but with my ICC profiles created with the same printer and exactly the same patch sets, I’ve actually found that my Bagasse Smooth profile seems to handle yellows just a tad better than the Textured paper. As you can see in this soft-proof screenshot, Bagasse Textured was showing a patches of the image that were supposedly out of gamut.

Eagles on Bagasse Textured Soft-Proof

Eagles on Bagasse Textured Soft-Proof

Here though (below), is a screenshot of of the same photo, without changing anything, other than selecting the Bagasse Smooth ICC profile to proof. As you can see, there are no gamut warnings.

Eagles on Bagasse Smooth Soft-Proof

Eagles on Bagasse Smooth Soft-Proof

I’m sure that this photograph would print just fine on the Bagasse Textured paper, as we saw earlier, with the flowerscape image, you can just fly in the face of the gamut gods and it doesn’t really seem to hurt that much, but I wanted to see this image with a smooth sky anyway, so I printed this on Bagasse smooth, and here is a photograph of the print (below).

Photo of Eagles Image on Bagasse Smooth

Photo of Eagles Image on Bagasse Smooth

OK, so let’s look at one last print on Bagasse Smooth, before we look at a few final details about these two new papers. This image (below) is actually the first photograph that I’ve made time to print so far, from the new Canon EOS 5Ds R that I reviewed recently.

Ichinuma

Ichinuma

All of the other images that we’ve look at today were from images of around 20 megapixels, with a native resolution of somewhere between 240 and 280 pixels per inch when printed at 17 x 24″ which is the print size I used in these tests. When the native resolution drops below 300 ppi, I generally turned on the Print Resolution check box in the Lightroom Print module, and set it to 300 ppi, which forces Lightroom to upsize the image a little for print.

Incredible Detail

With the 50 megapixel images from the 5Ds R though, I had a whopping 418 ppi native resolution for this image at 17 x 24″, so I unchecked the print resolution check box, and let Lightroom send everything it had to the printer. I print at 600 ppi anyway, so this was not going to go to waste. Here is a photo of the center of this image printed on Pura Bagasse Smooth (below).

Ichinuma Photo on Pura Bagasse Smooth

Ichinuma Photo on Pura Bagasse Smooth

I know that this is not going to come across fully in the Web sized images I’m posting here, but I think you’ll still be able to appreciate the incredible amount of detail in this print, again, shot looking up at the image with light from the window in my studio. This is of course not only a tribute to the image quality of the 5Ds R, but to these beautiful new Pura Bagasse papers from Breathing Color. Without a quality paper to print to, this level of detail just isn’t possible.

OBA Free

One other important aspect of these two new papers, is that they are both OBA free. That means there are no Optical Brightener Additives in these papers. OBAs are commonly found in cheaper media, and are almost always in office paper, which is why I can show you that there are none in the Bagasse brothers, by shining a small LED UV light onto them, as you see in this photograph (below).

Easy OBA Test

Easy OBA Test

OBAs work by absorbing light from the invisible ultra-violet end of the spectrum and emitting light in the visible blue/white range of the spectrum. This is what makes media that include OBAs look whiter and brighter. As you can see in this photograph, the office paper in the background reflects the UV light, but the Bagasse papers do not, proving that it’s OBA free.

Why are OBAs bad? Well, they decrease the longevity of fine art paper by accelerating metamerism and causing color shifts and yellowing over time. Although there are some archival fine art papers out there that do contain OBAs, it’s generally best to avoid them whenever possible.

I should also note that there are no OBAs in Pura Smooth either, so that is not an issue, but if you consider how much whiter the Bagasse papers are compared to Pura Smooth, as we saw in that example photo earlier, I think the Breathing Color team have done a cracking job with these two new offerings.

Printable on Both Side

One last detail that I’d like to include for good measure, is that the Bagasse papers are printable on both sides. That means that you could use this paper for high-end note cards and photo books etc. I’ve created a large batch of New Year post cards for a customer in the past, and I’d have loved to have been able to print on the back of those cards for my customers back then. Now I can do that.

Conclusion

OK, so let’s wrap this up. It will come as no surprise after that review that I give both of the Pura Bagasse papers a huge thumbs-up. These are game changing fine art papers. Heavy, at 320gsm, so prints on this media just ooze quality, and they’re bright white, and can easily cope with extremely high resolution images.

You couldn’t go wrong with this media even without the eco-friendly aspect that this paper is made from a byproduct of sugar production, but when you throw that into the mix, it makes this media an even more attractive addition to your printing workflow and fine art product offering. Think about that. If you sell prints, you can also market your prints as eco-friendly, and I’m sure before too long, that will include archival certification as well.

I do hope you’ve found this review useful. If you decide to pick-up these or any of Breathing Color‘s products, you can get a $20 discount by using our code MBP20. You can use this code for orders of any amount, even if you are only ordering a $19.95 Sample Pack, so if you are new to Breathing Color, give this a try.

Housekeeping

One last bit of housekeeping before we finish. By the time I release this, I’ll be on my way to Namibia for almost three weeks. I was just able to make time to finalize this review before I left, but I didn’t have time to fill the pipe with episodes for the following two weeks. Next week though, I’m going to share a video interview that Paul Griffiths did with me a few weeks ago for his Live and Uncut show. I won’t have time to add any intros etc. though, so don’t be surprised when we just launch into a totally different show. It was a good chat though, so I hope you enjoy it.

See you on the flip-side!


Show Notes

Breathing Color’s Web site: http://www.breathingcolor.com/

See Breathing Color’s Fine Art papers here: http://www.breathingcolor.com/action/bc_shop/164/

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Breathing Color Silverada Metallic Canvas Review (Podcast 418)

Breathing Color Silverada Metallic Canvas Review (Podcast 418)

Today we’re going to look at the new Silverada Pearlescent Metallic Canvas from Breathing Color. As you’ll see, Breathing Color continues to outdo themselves when it comes to bringing the fine art printing community and industry exactly what they need to create top class prints easier and better than ever before.

This episode is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create your own professional website, portfolio or online store. For a free trial and 10% off, go to squarespace.com and use offer code MBP.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the first look that I usually get of a new type of media that I’m looking at, is the printed patch sheet that I use to create the ICC Profile that I’ll use for all future prints to that media. For the sake of any new listeners, I print mainly with a Canon iPF6350 imagePROGRAF 24″ large format printer, so as you know, any profile that I create like this is specific to this printer and media combination.

I’m always excited to see this patch sheet come out of the printer, as you can learn a lot about a new type of media just from this. You can see right off the bat that Silverada Pearlescent Silver Metallic canvas has the incredibly rich colours that we’re used to from Breathing Color, but they have once again increased the gamut with this media.

Silverada Canvas Patch Sheet

Silverada Canvas Patch Sheet

The gamut of a media and printer combination is the range of colours that can be reproduced on that paper or canvas on a specific device. Although Breathing Color media always has a huge colour gamut, you generally still find a few areas that won’t just print without a little adjustment, especially with lots of yellow-greens in the image, like the one we’ll look at in a moment, but when I soft-proofed the image I printed for my gallery wrap there were no areas of the print that were out of gamut, and that’s incredible.

Remember that to easily soft-proof an image, if you use Adobe Lightroom, you can just go the Develop module and then his the S key on your keyboard, to enter the “soft-proof” mode. You then have to select the ICC profile in the pulldown, but if I’m loosing you here, I’ve already covered soft-proofing is Episodes 215 and 319, so we won’t go over that again today.

Image/Media Selection

When we print an image, we always have to consider what type of media we’ll select for a specific print, based on the image itself, and also where the image will be displayed. As you can see from the photo of the printed profile patch set, the pearlescent metallic properties of Silverada Canvas make it quite glossy and reflective, and this can cause problems if you intend to hang your print in a location with a bright light source in front of it.

Now, I have a location in my studio that I wanted to hang a print, in a dark corner that no window light shines directly into. I decided to print an image from Iceland last year to brighten up that corner of the room, and figured that the feel of the metallic canvas would give the image some luminance in that dark corner. I’ll give you a little more background shortly, but first, here’s a photo of the finished 20 x 30 inch Silverada gallery wrap, hung in my dark corner.

Landmannalaugar 20x30" Gallery Wrap

Landmannalaugar 20×30″ Silverada Canvas Gallery Wrap

I purposefully didn’t shine any light onto the image, but I hope that you can tell from this photo that the resulting gallery wrap has a certain luminance that I wouldn’t have achieved in this dark corner without the subtle reflectiveness of the Silverada Canvas.

Conversely, here is the same gallery wrap hung in the middle of another wall where there is a window opposite and slightly to the right. You can see how much light the right side of the canvas is reflecting, and so I want to impress on you here the importance of selecting your media with your display location and image in mind. I would not select Silverada for this image in this location, although my Lyve and Crystalline Satin Canvas gallery wraps look great on this wall.

Silverada Canvas with Reflection

Silverada Canvas with Reflection

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use Silverada in a place with a light source opposite, you just have to select the right images to print. As an example, here are a couple of photos of black and white prints that I also made to test Silverada, and the metallic reflective surface here really helps to bring them to life.

Black and White on Silverada Metallic Canvas

Black and White on Silverada Metallic Canvas

Black and White on Silverada Metallic Canvas

Black and White on Silverada Metallic Canvas

It’s always difficult to really show how good a certain media is in photos, but I’m sure you will be able to appreciate the beautiful deep blacks that you can get, as well as the quality that the texture and reflectivity of the metallic canvas brings to the images, helping the lighter areas to really shine through in contrast to the deep blacks.

Let’s get back to my main gallery wrap test once more now though, with this photo in which you can once again see the texture in the surface of the canvas. This is taken at an angle of course, so the perspective of the photo itself runs out some, as does the depth-of-field, but if you click on the image to view it large you’ll see that the canvas really adds a beautiful texture and depth to the print.

Silverada Canvas Texture close-up

Silverada Canvas Texture close-up

Recap on the Process

I also wanted to give you a bit more information on actually working with the canvas to make your own gallery wraps. Note that from my 22 megapixel 5D Mark III files, I had to upsize the image by around 160% using onOne Software’s Perfect Resize 8, to give me a beautifully detailed large prints. I’ll be talking about Perfect Resize a little more in the coming weeks, as I review a new online print service that I’m working with at the moment, so stay tuned for that.

One of the great things about Silverada is that it doesn’t need laminating. You can laminate it with an HVLP spray gun, and this will increase the durability and longevity of the print, but with Silverada already being OBA Free, which means that it contains no Optical Brightening Agents that can shorten the longevity of media, so it’s pretty much archival, though I understand that tests are still being done.

Again, I’ll go into more detail on this in the coming weeks, but note that I also use onOne Software’s Perfect Resize because it not only enables me to easily upsize the image for large prints, but it can automatically create the mirrored borders required for these edges of the gallery wrap. It might take a bit of concentration to figure out what you’re looking at, but you can see in this image (below) that the edges of the photo have been mirrored and added to a 1.85″ border around the edges of the image in preparation for printing. This saves me from losing the edges of the actual image.

Landmannalaugar for 20x30" Gallery Wrap

Landmannalaugar for 20×30″ with 2″ borders for a Gallery Wrap

Once printed, all you have to do is build your frame and fix it to the back of the canvas. I did a time-lapse video a couple of years ago in Episode 303 that shows you how to actually put a canvas gallery wrap together, so I won’t go through this again today, but do note that I am now stapling the backs of my gallery wraps, as opposed to trimming the surplus away as I used to do.

Silverada is not as stiff as the Crystalline Canvas that I reviewed in Episode 380 of this Podcast, so you could probably get away with simply trimming away the edges of the canvas along the back edge of the stretcher bars, but since I started to staple the backs of my gallery wraps, I think this is generally a nicer way to complete the product, and does guard against the canvas coming away from the adhesive tape over time, so I’ve continued to do this with Silverada, as you can see in this photo.

Silverada Canvas Stapled Back

Silverada Canvas Stapled Back

You can also see how neatly the corners are finished when using the Breathing Color stretcher bars. I use the EasyWrappe Pro 1.75-inch bars, and as I mentioned earlier, this is a 20 x 30 inch gallery wrap. To create a 20 x 30 inch wrap on a 24″ wide roll media printer, you don’t have a lot of space on the sides to work with once you’ve added those almost 2″ borders, so as you can also see here, there’s only a little bit of canvas to staple to the back, but it works fine.

You can see that I also just attach a small metal bracket to either side of my gallery wraps, and then tie some string between the brackets to hang the gallery wrap. I buy this from an art/craft shop here in Tokyo called Sekaido, but I’m sure you can find something similar in your neighbourhood too.

Conclusion

So, to wrap this up, I’d just like to summarise that although you do have to be careful what you print, and where you’ll hang a Silverada Pearlescent Metallic Canvas gallery wrap, it’s an absolutely incredible canvas. The huge colour gamut and depth and richness of the colors are second to none, and the Breathing Color EasyWrappe system makes putting these beautiful finished products together a breeze.

Remember, if you decide to look into the Breathing Color gallery wrap system or pick up any of their other media, you can get a $20 with our code MPB20. You can even just pick up one of their sample packs to see why I am totally in love with Breathing Color products. Since I switched to Breathing Color almost four years ago now, I’ve basically stopped using media from any other manufacturer, although I used a lot up to that point, so I have a great base to make my comparisons from.


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Show Notes

Check out Breathing Color here: http://www.breathingcolor.com/
(And don’t forget to claim your $20 discount with our code MBP20!)

Music by UniqueTracks


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.