A photographic fine art print is an image that has been composed by a photographer and processed to ensure a high quality print finish. The original image is created by capturing digital photographs which are later enhanced or reworked using computer software. I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. The printing process is on demand and uses a very sophisticated top of the line digital printer and carefully selected archival paper. The resulting print has fine color fidelity, exceptional detail and fade resistance that is suitable for museum and gallery display. Each of my fine art prints is a copy of the original digital artwork and this is known as an Open Edition Print.
All of my Fine Art Prints are produced by a professional print lab in the UK using the hihest quality museum quality archival paper with fade resistance for over a lifetime. The actual print stability will vary according to display conditions, light intensity, humidity and atmospheric conditions. For maximum print life see how to properly store them below.
The damage of Sunlight exposure
Never hang or exhibit Fine Art Prints in direct sunlight. Next, try to avoid strong indirect daylight. It’s a good idea to change prints frequently if they hang in strong light situations. Ultraviolet light is what you want to avoid. Many fluorescent tube lamps give off ultraviolet light, and filters are available and should be used. Also, you can purchase ultraviolet-shielding Plexiglas or glass when getting you photographs framed. Normal household light bulbs do not present a problem.
Heat and Humidity precautions
Try to avoid extremes of heat and humidity. Keep Fine Art Prints away from fireplaces, radiators or other heating devices. When storing Fine Art Prints keep them out of damp basements and hot attics. It is best to keep them at a constant temperature humidity. Museums try to keep a temperature around 18 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit) and a relative humidity of 40%. If the humidity is too high, be on the lookout for Foxing, a type of mold growth. If you live in the tropics, the best advise I can give you is to contact a local museum in your area, for specific precautions. It also advised not to keep Fine Art Prints in a room that has been freshly painted due to the toxins in the air.
Handling the Fine Art Print
Proper handling is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent damage to Fine Art Prints. Always wash your hands before touching the print and if possible wear clean white cotton gloves that are designed for handling art. When picking up a fine art print always use both hands and make sure the back of the print is supported so it does not bend. Never touch the surface of fine art print with you finger. If you are trying to blow something off the surface, make sure you do not accidentally spit on the print. The surface of fine art prints can be damaged by sliding prints against each other and by placing objects on top of them. Once damaged this way fine art prints are very difficult if not impossible to repair.
Poor framing can destroy a print. You need archival, acid-free, frame spacing, and UV protected glass or plexi-glass for large prints. Fine Art Prints are usually “matted” or “floated” in a frame. The latter leaves the borders and deckled edge of the paper exposed for you to enjoy. If you decide to float your print on acid-free board, it is important your framer instalsl “frame-spacing” around the edge of the frame; it is invisible to the presentation, but lifts the glass off of the surface of the print. One of the most important things to remember is the glass should never touch the surface of the print as this can encourage moisture to become trapped inside the frame causing damaging mold and water stains.
Museum quality Photo Rag or Glossy Canvas work great for both colour and black & white images. Metallic paper apparently works great too for Black & White but I haven’t tried it. I would tend to avoid other papers particularly for black & white as it’s common for there to be a colour cast.
It is important to have a good idea where any purchased wall art will be displayed. Thus, before buying it, you need to think about the place where you want to put the piece once you buy it. The photograph will be part of your home interior and it needs to reflect the feel of that area and of yourself. This detail is important not only for getting the most out of a photograph visually but also from the conversations that can be triggered by it’s viewers. Technical issues also need to be considered such as variations in temperature and humidity as these need to be avoided. Lighting also needs to be considered as it’s best to avoid direct sun light and use artificial lighting instead.
I use a Fujifilm XT2 with a 16mm F1.4, 23mm f2, and a 55-200mm zoom lens. I also have the 18-55mm lens which is great for capturing videos.
It’s always best to capture the best images you can at the point of capture as this will minimize the post-processing effort. However, as my final goal is a Fine Art Print I do spend some time on post-processing using Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Alien Skin Exposure. Since my style is a mix of documentary and fine art photography I tend to like to keep this effort to a minimum but don’t fool yourself, if you want to make the most of the dynamic range that a camera can capture, and you want to achieve a high quality final print, then you will need to do some level of post-processing. This is basically the digital darkroom and photographers from the past like Ansel Adams believed that the effort between capturing the image and the darkroom was about 50:50 and that’s probably a fair estimate.
Personally I love canvas prints for vibrant colorful images and I also find that they can work well for some of my sepia toned monochrome images. On the other hand Black and White images look better printed on a high quality archival paper, ideally fiber based with a strong white base. If you still can’t decide whether you should buy a canvas, here are a few advantages. A canvas …
– does not exhibit any glare or reflections
– has the largest image size for a given wall space (no mats or borders)
– weighs much less than framed prints
– is much easier and more economical to create extremely large sizes
– provides a frame-less presentation which creates a window into the scene
– creates a painterly effect which is very pleasing
– can be installed in semi-humid environments (bathrooms)
– lack of frame blends well into any style decor in the home or office
– can be placed into wood floater frame for a “finished” look
– can have an acrylic coating added to further protect the canvas which works great in an office environment