Despite photography’s embrace of digital media and sharing, there’s still nothing quite like a physical print as the ultimate way to realize the power of a photograph. Especially in a time when sharing is primarily done in digital form, printing your photos is a statement, and it’s a place and time to be decisive about how your photographs look in physical form. Canson Infinity obviously understands the importance of choice in physical media and has recently released four new papers within its ARCHES line of fine art matte papers.
ARCHES is a legendary papermaker that Canson Infinity has teamed up with to produce four distinct inkjet papers for photographers that marry the history and heritage of ARCHES with Canson’s technical and innovative capabilities for modern-day inkjet printing. As a paper mill, ARCHES has been around since 1492 and is the sole mill in France that still uses a traditional cylinder mould process for creating its fine art papers. Also, each of these four papers is 100% cotton and is completely free from any optical brightening agents (OBAs), making for papers that are naturally bright white and supple to the touch.
An all-around solid choice for general printing and fine art needs, ARCHES 88 is a 310 gsm paper with a smooth matte finish and bright, pure white base color. It’s a go-to paper for any subject matter; the clean surface texture suits highly detailed images and the bright and neutral color is ideal for vibrant color subjects or subtler monochromatic prints. Also, at 19 mil thick, it’s a sturdy paper that will hold up to frequent handling and portfolio applications, too.
ARCHES Aquarelle Rag
At the other end of the matte paper spectrum, ARCHES Aquarelle Rag is a very distinct watercolor paper with a characteristic texture. Based on traditional fine art papers, it has a very even and natural grain with a “felt-marked” finish that’s perfect to complement images with rich contrast or texture, or can be used to counter minimalistic photos with a strong physicality. Like ARCHES 88, Aquarelle Rag still has a very neutral and clean base color and the unique inkjet receiving layer means blacks will still render with plenty of density and richness and colors will stay vibrant and accurate. It’s also a 310 gsm paper and comes in even thicker at 21 mil, making for a very substantial paper, ideal for exhibitions.
ARCHES BFK Rives White and Pure White
The other two papers in the ARCHES lineup are both based on the classic BFK Rives printmaking papers: ARCHES BFK Rives White and ARCHES BFK Rives Pure White. For printmaking applications, BFK Rives is one of the most popular and versatile papers for a variety of printing processes, and Canson Infinity has adapted this classic for inkjet use in two forms. The difference between the two models is right in the name: The White paper is the more classic appearing of the two, with a natural white base, whereas the Pure White is a brighter, cleaner base color that helps set off vibrant colors. In technical speak, the White paper has an 85.32% whiteness rating and 98.5% opacity while the Pure White has an impressive—considering there are no OBAs—97.26% whiteness rating and 99.12% opacity. Beyond the base color distinction, both papers are otherwise essentially the same; both are 310 gsm papers measuring 20 mil thick and both have a super-smooth, clean finish that complements a variety of subjects.
ARCHES Discovery Pack
Before settling on one of the above papers for your next printing project, one of the most valuable and educational things you can do is to pick up a sample pack of these four papers to try beforehand. The ARCHES Discovery Pack includes two 8.5 x 11" sheets of each paper type, letting you preview your work on the different surface finishes, base colors, and substrate types before choosing the paper for the perfect look. Sample packs like this one also give you a chance to pair different papers with different kinds of images you might have in your library, which will better equip you for future paper purchases. Abstract, fine art, and landscapes are traditionally fine subject choices for more textured papers, whereas portraiture and fine detail shots often benefit from the cleaner surface of a smooth textured matte paper. Sampling a couple of sheets with different types of images will help you nail down your preferences.
ARCHES papers are available in a variety of sizes, including 5 x 7", 8.5 x 11", 11 x 17", 13 x 19", and 17 x 22" sheets, and 50'-long rolls in 17", 24", 36", and 44" widths.
Which Canson Infinity ARCHES paper sounds the most enticing to you? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.