What is baryta photo paper and why should it be your paper of choice?
Posted: 18 Dec 2017
If you’ve ever looked at, used, or been involved in conversations about the different types of paper available on the market, chances are you will have heard of baryta. Baryta is a popular choice for many photographers – particularly those who make black and white images. But what is it that makes it the go-to paper type for so many people? Here’s everything you need to know about baryta photo paper – including a few reasons why it should be your paper of choice!
What is baryta photo paper and how is it made?
The word ‘baryta’ comes from the chemical compound barite – barium sulphate. This is a natural mineral, similar to clay. This mineral can be used for the production of things such as linoleum, rubber, and plastics, but in paper it is used as a coating.
All baryta inkjet papers are fibre-based (cotton rag or alpha-cellulose), and are made using a special coating of barium sulphate traditionally applied to one of these fibre photo papers before it’s coated with emulsion. As baryta papers have emulsion put directly onto the fibres of the paper during production, which means the chemicals soak into the surface of the paper, the making of the paper is a much slower process. Adding the baryta layer helps to brighten the image and prevents other chemicals absorbed on the fibres from infiltrating the other layers of the paper. Occasionally, you might find that paper manufacturers sometimes add tints to the barite coating to alter the final tone of the print, but it is more commonly used with optical brighteners to increase the whiteness of the paper.
Why should I use a baryta photo paper?
Different baryta papers will have different textures and effects, though all of them have common qualities which make them an incredibly attractive option. For example, all baryta papers will have a sheen of some level, but while some will be designed to very bright, others might have a warmer tone. Generally speaking, though, there are a few things that make photographers choose a baryta as their paper of choice, including:
They’re great for black and white prints
Today’s baryta photo papers are incredibly popular because they offer rich blacks, wide gamuts, contrast and sharpness, and subtle tonal transitions. Baryta photo papers tend to have a slightly higher DMAX, meaning that they will give you deeper blacks and more detail. Our Platinum Baryta 300 Signature offers a DMAX of 2.7, meaning that it can give you both dark shadows and bright highlight. This quality is what makes barytas perfect for creating black and white prints, and one of the main reasons photographers use a baryta paper in their inkjet printing is the ability to use photo black pigment inks. Having said that, they’re also great for colour photography, as the bright white undertones can really help make your colours pop – just ask Anne Sutcliffe!
Photographers usually want a certain amount of weight and thickness for them to achieve that ‘fine art feel’, but most resin-coated fine art papers might not offer the density and colour gamut that they want. This is where barytas truly shine – as a fibre paper, not only do they offer an impressive colour gamut, but they’re also heavier and more textured than many other fine art papers.
Baryta papers are often a good choice for those photographers who are either selling prints or exhibiting. Not only do they look great, but the fact that they’re fibre-based means that they have impressive archival qualities. Resin-coated papers are more easily damaged than fibre-based papers and last around 50 years. For some, this may suffice. However, a properly processed fibre-based paper can last hundreds of years and is less prone to damage.
Should I use a baryta photo paper in my printing?
The paper you choose to use all comes down to personal preference. However, if you’ve never used a baryta photo paper before, we’d definitely recommend giving it a try – they’re truly great for producing beautiful fine art and exhibition prints.
Why not try our best-selling Platinum Baryta 300? A 100% acid free, fine art paper with a smooth unglazed gloss surface, natural white base, and state of the art micro-porous ink receiving layer, Platinum Baryta 300 has a wide colour gamut and high D-MAX of 2.7 to give you the best results a baryta can.
The paper is approved by the Fine Art Trade Guild and when used in conjunction with pigment inks will ensure a print life of a minimum of 85 years.
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