Suirvale Photography Information on Prints

By: Suirvale Photography  05/12/2011
Keywords: printing, printers, Mat

Our prints are produced, on demand, using the finest printers, inks and papers to provide high image quality and long life. The printing process and materials used conform to the generally accepted standards for Giclée prints (see the notes to the right for a description).

Most of our printing, especially the landscapes, is done on a mat paper with a smooth surface which holds fine detail and sharpness. Other subjects can benefit from a more textured surface. Either way these are the best quality artist's watercolour papers available and come from long established paper mills in Germany and England.

The surface of these papers is so mat that it looks like velvet. The lack of surface reflections means that the colours are more intense and vibrant. Photographers use 'polarising' filters to cut down reflections from foliage, and other natural features, to intensify colour—these mat papers do the same thing. Obviously there will still be reflections from the glass in the frame but the overall effect is still enhanced compared to a gloss or semi-gloss paper.

Giclée Prints

About the Prints

In the early 90’s, pioneers of high quality digital printing for fine-art 'editions' adopted the term Giclée (pronounced Zhee-clay) to differentiate their work from more run-of-the-mill prints of the time. Today, the rapid progress in the development of inkjet printers - especially the move to using pigment inks rather than dyes - has meant that a number of professional-level units can now satisfy the criteria for Giclée.

Giclée, fairly obviously, is French and means ‘something that has been sprayed or squirted’. Whilst there is no absolute definition of a Giclée print it does need to be produced..

  • using a colour-managed process—for accuracy and consistency
  • on acid-free and lignin-free paper or canvas—for long life
  • using between eight and twelve pigment* inks—for a wide colour gamut, smooth tonal gradation and long life

It is now well accepted that Giclée prints provide the finest quality for reproduced editions of original art. For photographs every print is essentially an ‘original’.

*The vast majority of injet printers, used with home and office computers (including most of those sold as 'photo-printers'), employ between four and six ‘dye-based’ inks. These produce prints which, under normal display conditions (i.e. NOT in direct sunlight), will start to fade in a couple of years. Pigment inks will, depending on the paper used, provide typically 50 to 200 years of life before any visible fading takes place.

Framing Suggestions

When writing the above we thought that the word 'mat' might cause some confusion for anyone whose first language is not the incredibly logical English!

So here is some clarification..

A 'mat' can be a small floor covering (as in door-mat), a small pad to protect a surface (as in table-mat or drinks-mat) or a very large pad to protect people from a surface (as in wrestling or martial arts). It can also describe densely interwoven plants (as in 'a mat of weeds' on a pond).

Mat, matt or matte can describe a surface that is 'not shiny' or is 'dull and flat' but matt and matte are rarely used to describe small or large surface protectors or people protectors. So you can write - "a mat was used to protect the mat/matt/matte surface" but you can't write - "a matt/matte was used.."

A mat/matt/matte can also be a border between a picture and a frame. You could have a shiny mat but most mats are mat or matt or matte. Most of these mats/matts/mattes are made of cardboard and are sometimes called 'mounts'. Please make sure that these are the 'archival' versions.

We hope that this clarifies things - it's simple really!

Apparently the origin of mat/matt/matte was the French word 'mat' so if you are still confused - its their fault.

Mat, Matt or Matte

Pigment inks printed onto acid-free and lignin-free paper produce prints with a long fade-free (and stain-free) life expectancy and are said to be 'archival'. But if the print comes into contact with any non-archival material then staining or fading can occur. For maximum life expectancy please make sure you instruct your framer to use only ‘archival’ materials. The print should not come into contact with any wood or glass so the use of a mat (mount) or a ‘box frame’ is essential.

Since the papers we use are not bleached, and have no artificial whiteners, they are not pure white. We therefore recommend the use of an 'off-white' mat.

Giclée prints should be handled with the same care and consideration that you would give to an original watercolour painting. The surface, especially of the velvet-like mat papers, is easily finger-marked and any such contamination will compromise the archival qualities of the print. Ideally the prints should be handled whilst wearing clean cotton gloves, which are available from some pharmacies. If this is not possible then only handle prints by their edges and use particular care when removing prints from their shipping tubes.

Handling the Prints

Keywords: Giclée Prints, Mat, Pigment Inks, printers, printing

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Suirvale Photography Services Information

With a background in many facets of marketing we can help to define marketing and promotional plans and implement these with the design of literature and presentation material. In addition to the sale of prints, photographs are also available for promotional and editorial purposes—we have supplied photographs to a number of leading Irish magazines.