A few weeks ago Jared Polin of FroKnowsPhoto fame posted this video on youtube:
If you didn't watch the video Jared has teamed up with Red River Paper in giving out 300 of their 'Fro packs' of inkjet photo paper. I've bought photo paper from Red River before and still use their UltraPro Satin paper to print portraits and just about everything else. But since I haven't been printing from home for too long I haven't experimented with other types of their paper. So I jumped at the opportunity to get a 'Fro Pack' to play with a few sheets of Red Rivers most popular photo paper. A brief disclaimer, although I did include pictures they don't do justice to the quality of how they look in person.
What was included in the package was 10 sheets of 8.5" x 11" photo paper and a special offer for $10 off my first order from Red River Paper. The 10 sheets were made up of 2 sheets each of the following paper:
- 68lb UltraPro Satin 4.0
- 75lb Artic Polar Luster
- 66lb Polar Pearl Metallic
- 60lb Polar Matte
- 68lb UltraPro Gloss 2.0
Each comes printed with the paper's name on the bottom corner of the paper to let you know which is which and is placed in such a way that doesn't interfere with printing an 8x10.
The two main papers I want to talk about are the Polar Pearl Metallic and the UltraPro Gloss but lets first cover the other three. As I said above I've used the UltraPro Satin before and it's a great paper to start with in printing since nearly any photo will look great printed on it. Similarly, the Arctic Polar Luster is great if you're wanting your prints a bit glossier while keeping a bit of a textured look to the paper. The only difference I see between the UltraPro Satin and the Arctic Polar Luster is the amount of gloss as the detail and color rendition are equal to my eye. I don't care for matte paper so even though the Polar Matte print is sharp and the colors look fine, I also think it looks boring. This paper may be great for those who like matte but matte paper as a whole is not for me.
I didn't know what to expect from the Polar Pearl Metallic paper. I've never used metallic paper before nor ordered a metallic print from any printing houses so when I printed my black and white photo of the Louisville skyline from the 2nd street bridge I was excited by the results. Photos of the paper don't do it justice as you have to see it in person to see the sheen the paper throws off. Shades of grey take on a metal sheen that makes the blacks and whites pop in a way that no other paper could do. As exciting as this print was the results for printing my 'Dea Ex' portrait blew me away. The way in which the paper picks up the tones of the make up and body paint on the subject are amazing and I've ordered this paper just to print that portrait larger. As much as I love this paper it is sort of a speciality paper. It's not a paper I would ordinarily print portraits on and I'd be hesitant to print many black and white photos on. It's paper that when it works with the photo, it really works and is spectacular but the amount of photos that it works with is far more limited than most other paper.
Maybe it's due to years of getting badly printed photos on glossy paper from local drugstores that made me dislike the look of glossy prints. Even now printing at home I don't use nor even consider using glossy paper and while I'm still not sure it's for me I was impressed with the UltraPro Gloss 2.0 paper. The colors pop and look great, it maintains contrast well, and details are retained wonderfully. This is what a glossy print should look like and I would definitely order this paper if I wanted glossy prints. Even though I still prefer the slightly textured and less glossy look of luster and satin papers I do have a new appreciation for glossy paper.