In this part of our “Back to the Print” series, I review three “value-added” products that Hahnemuhle has brought to the market. Why “valued-added products”? Because they are more than just paper. As you know, Hahnemuhle is one of the venerable European paper makers and their inkjet range deserves the high international reputation it has earned. With these products based on paper, Hahnemuhle is showing us that quite apart from paper itself, printing is rather about what you can do with paper – adding value to the paper by using it as the creative basis for different presentations of photographs – presentations that can serve a variety of purposes very handily. The three products reviewed here are the panorama paper in sheets rather than rolls, the book-album and the tin box of photo cards.
In working with these materials I found myself getting to like the results very readily. These products really do provide for appealing alternative ways of presenting photographs, so we thought we should share them with you. Using them successfully, however, requires bending one’s mind a bit over the nitty-gritty of how to lay the images down on paper so they show correctly according to the intent of the products. It isn’t necessarily intuitive or self-evident, and Hahnemuhle’s instructions are not really adequate, so I share with you here the “learning curve” to successful product usage, as well as some ideas on the artistic side. I should also mention that these products are not always well represented in the retail trade, so if you are interested in trying them, ask your retailer to order the ones you want and they don’t stock. OK, onto the details.
I introduced this product in my Eight Papers review in the context of it being a Photo Rag paper. The paper dimensions are 8.27 inches by 23.39 inches (210 by 594 mm), hence really oblong and requiring appropriate panoramic type photos to fill it, or imaginative compositions of several photos on the same page. I shall have a look at both options.
The key to correct printing with this paper, other than the usual color management considerations, is to get the dimensions correct and consistent for both the photo and the paper itself in the printer driver and your printing application. Hahn explains how to do this well enough on an insert in the package; however, there are no comparable instructions for Lightroom, where the set-up is just different enough to cause a bit of heart-burn unless approached in a properly sequenced manner. So I shall explain how to use this pano paper in Lightroom.
The very first step is to select the correct aspect ratio in the Crop tool and compose the photo according to how much of the pano sheet you wish to fill with it. You do this by creating a custom crop taking into account the size of the sheet and the margins you want around the photo – the photo must fit correctly into those dimensions. Let us say you want a one-half inch margin on all four sides. That is 12.7mm. So taking the Hahn paper size, the dimensions of the photo apart from the margin of one half inch all round will be [594-(12.7*2)] = 568.6 x [210-(12.7*2)] = 184.6. 568.8/184.6 = 3.08 Aspect Ratio. Set this aspect ratio in the Custom box for Aspect Ratio (Figure 1).
The resulting crop will look like what you see in Figure 2, for the example I am using.
Now that you have placed the crop area over the composition you wish to retain, switch to the Print Module.
Click on Page Set-Up in the lower left corner (Figure3), red arrow, then make sure you are formatting for the correct printer (top of dialog), and click on Paper Size, selecting “Manage Custom Sizes” (green arrow). This is for defining the page size. In North American versions of LR and the Epson driver it seems available only in inches, so set the width to 8.27 inches and the height to 23.39 inches (blue arrow; you have to imagine the paper held in a vertical position as it would go into the printer to make sense of this). Notice I have set all the non-printable areas to zero. No need for it in this case. You can save this as a preset (Figure 4).
Migrate to the right side of the Print interface and in Layout, set the margins to zero, and set the cell size to the photo size calculated above, this time Width 565.8 mm and Height 181.9 mm (Figure 5, green arrow). Then toward the bottom of the right side of the Print module, in the Print Job panel for now UNCHECK “Print Resolution”. Doing this will allow you to see the native resolution of the photo before any resampling for the printer (Figure 5 red arrow, and Figure 6).
You will notice that the photo has about 5mm shorter width than called for. I don’t know how or why Lightroom did this. Anyhow, moving on, the native resolution is 255PPI. If you wish to print at that resolution, it should work reasonably well. Otherwise, you may check the Print Resolution box and change the resolution to the output resolution value you want. This will not interfere with linear dimensions. It will resample the photo on the fly to the printer.
Figure 7 shows the pano ready to print, and it will emerge from the printer as it looks under soft-proof, with the layout shown exactly as below.
So that is one implementation of the Hahn Pano paper in Lightroom. Another implementation is to create a multiple photo pano. To do this, switch from the Single Image Layout Style to the Custom Package Style, making sure in Page Set-up to select your Hahn Pano paper size preset. Now drag, say, three photos from the thumbnail ribbon below into the Layout, and re-dimension and position them according to the layout you prefer. The one I made for this demonstration is in Figure 8.
Serious tip: It really is hard to see the difference between the printable and non-printable side of this paper and Hahnemuhle does nobody a favor by failing to indicate in the packaging which side is up. If you print on the wrong side, you will get a dull, mucky-looking mess. How do I know?….. ha, ha ☺. (Would that happen to me? Ya….) Examine the paper at a severe angle under a very bright light so it casts maximum shadows from the paper texture and see which one looks craggier – that is the printable side. Make sure the paper is packaged in the plastic envelope printable side up and write “UP” with a marker on the plastic, then only remove the paper one sheet at a time making sure you keep the printable side UP until it gets into the printer. Whew.
In sum, there are creative uses for this paper format to produce interesting small-scale panos without the need for roll paper. Give it a try. This paper also comes in Photo Rag Baryta.
This product provides a very attractive way to print, store and display photos all-in-one. The one major defect once again is Hahnemuhle’s failure to provide correct documentation for the album set-up or ANY documentation for its proper usage. I shall provide detailed guidance for one printer and dimensioning set-up, from which the same logic can be applied to others. But first, the product itself.
The album covers are made with nicely patterned black leather and a red stitching (optional) (Figure 9).
It comes complete with black front and back inside cover pages, two gray plastic interleaf sheets, a leather strip for the spine and a set each of shorter and longer screw posts for holding it all together (Figure 10).
The package comes with an instruction sheet explaining how to assemble the album. There is, however, an error in the first step on the sheet. Instruction Step 1 says to push the screw-posts (they call them “brushes”, but they aren’t – they’re screw-posts) through the holes in the cover from the outside inward. If you do this, you won’t be able to implement Step 2. You need to push the screw-posts from the inside outward – and what they don’t tell you is that you do this with the back cover. Their instruction sheet also omits what to with the black inside cover sheets and the interleaf sheets. After you implement Step 3, you need to insert one black sheet, then the interleaf sheet. Perhaps they consider this part of Step 4 the book block. Back in step 3, they aren’t abundantly clear – so make sure to turn the patterned side of the spine strip outward and oriented so that you will be inserting the strip via the small holes, not the oblong ones. Well, it’s not the greatest instruction sheet, but certainly better than NOTHING, which is what you get with the album paper, and this can be deadly – prone to a lot of waste unless you know what you’re doing – so I’ll tell you.
Just before that, a comment on the album covers – I think there is one fold too many around the screw posts making the spine fatter and clumsier than it needs to be. I know they did this to make sure the screw-posts are completely hidden, but it comes at a cost of some clumsiness in the assembly and closure of the album. You can mitigate this somewhat by sitting a heavy book on the album spine once you are certain that all the folds are correctly implemented.
Turning to the paper, my package came with two envelopes containing 20 sheets each of PhotoRag Duo paper (printable both sides) and two corresponding packages of interleaf sheets (I reviewed the paper in my “Eight Papers” article). They also provide spare screw-posts; (however, for expanding the album it would have made more sense to provide screw-post extensions rather than duplicate sets of the posts that come with the album).
The idea is to place one interleaf sheet between each photo sheet to protect the photos from rubbing against each other – recall: the paper will be printed on both sides. It also elevates the “class” of the presentation, much like the old Swiss and German leather-bound photo albums one bought in yesteryear when Swiss Francs or German Marks were about 4 to the dollar, hence affordable; those albums had “onion skins” between the album sheets. Of course the exchange rates of the 1950s have gone the way of the DoDo bird.
Now for the “here’s how”, to use this paper successfully. I’m demonstrating this for the combination of printing from Lightroom (which at time of writing Adobe has just screwed up with release 2015.6) in an Epson P800 using the Epson driver. Please follow these steps exactly and you won’t mess up at least the orientation of the photos – color management as of today no-one can vouch for – we hope it will be fixed before this article gets published.
1. Make sure your photos are all properly soft-proofed for printing on PhotoRag – a matte paper. Recall, with two sided-printing if you decide after printing that you don’t like one of them, you are reprinting two of them.
2. Decide on all the page layouts in advance, because apart from the first and last photos, all the others will be facing each other, so you may wish to apply some artistic judgment about pairing the photos.
3. Decide on the page layout for the prints. In my demo, I want a minimum one inch border between the largest print dimension and the edge of the sheet. I also know that the sheets are 13 inches wide by 12 inches tall – as you look at them in the book, and the album covers require a one-inch strip, reducing the 13-inch dimension to a usable 12-inch dimension.
4. We are assuming a conventional North American book design whereby the spine is on the left and the cover opens from right to left. When you open the cover, the first page facing you is on the right, so its margin for the binding is on the left. When you turn the page, the other side of the page is on the left and the margin for the binding is on the right of that side of the sheet. (Do not say “so what” – this is non-trivial information!)
5. In the Lightroom Print Module create two page set-ups following these counter-intuitive instructions – but trust me – the prints will emerge correctly on the paper if you do this exactly.
5(A) This applies to the print on the right side page, which has the binding margin on the left. Click on Page Set-Up in the LR print module and select Landscape orientation (Figure 11).
Click on the drop-down for Paper Size and click on Manage Custom Sizes (bottom of the list). Click the little + sign for a new preset, implement the settings shown in Figure 12 and name the preset “Hahn Book Left Side”.
Don’t worry that the Width here is 12 and the Height 13 – this is Epson driver-ese for the reverse, because it follows the way the paper is inserted into the printer. Don’t worry that the 1-inch non-printable area is set to the Top even though it will really come out on the Left – same logic. Once you have done this, you will end up with the right-side page layout looking like Figure 13, provided you implement the other Layout settings as shown.
In the LR Print Module Layout Panel: Left Margin: 1 inch (the unprintable minimum); all other margins: 0. Page Grid is 1 cell. Cell size (the area that the photo fits into) is maximum Height 12 inches, Width 10 inches (which on a 13-inch paper width allows for the 1-inch unprintable area for the binding and 1 inch border on each side of the photo, as shown.
5(B) This applies to the print on the left side page (i.e. the other side of the sheet which when the page turns is on the left), which has the binding margin on the right. Click on Page Set-Up in the LR print module and select Landscape orientation (Figure 11).
Click on the drop-down for Paper Size and click on Manage Custom Sizes (bottom of the list). Click the little + sign for a new preset, implement the settings shown in Figure 124 and name the preset “Hahn Book Right Side”.
The only change from the Left-side set-up is that the 1 inch non-printable area is set to Bottom instead of Top. Name the Preset Hahn Book Right Side, click OK and return to Lightroom. Once you have done this, you will end up with the left-side page/right-side margin layout looking like Figure 15, provided you implement the other Layout settings as shown.
In the LR Print Module Layout Panel: Right Margin: 1 inch (the unprintable minimum); all other margins: 0. Page Grid is 1 cell. Cell size (the area that the photo fits into) is maximum Height 12 inches, Width 10 inches (which on a 13-inch paper width allows for the 1-inch unprintable area for the binding and 1 inch border on each side of the photo, as shown.
Photos with portrait orientation get the same treatment as explained above, except that the borders on the left and right will end-up being wider and the borders on top and bottom one inch each. The settings related to Figures 13 and 15 depend on the page side one is working with, and not on whether the photo is of Landscape or Portrait orientation.
We now come to actually printing the pages. The next instruction is absolutely critical for all of the above to work correctly:
6. Insert the paper into the printer with the side having the punched holes on the bottom – i.e. this side goes into the printer first. After printing this side, hold the paper in Portrait orientation and flip it vertically so that the unprinted side is facing you (up) and insert the bottom edge into the printer (the punched holes will now be on top of the page). Print.
Figure 16 shows a dual page layout test (not using the Hahnemuhle paper), indicating that the orientations and positioning of the photos come out correctly in relation to the requirements of the album using the set-up instructions provided above.
All told, the Hahnemuhle Album makes a nice presentation, and could be, for example, very suitable for gift-giving on various family or official occasions. Or it could be a good way to print and conserve your own photographic output.
Availability and Pricing: At time of writing, the availability of the Photo Rag Book and Album (220 gsm) for the 12×12 inch album covers from B&H in NYC is on “special order” status, and the price is USD 91.00 for a 20-sheet package (two-sided, so 40 prints-worth). However, there also exists Photo Rag Duo (276 gsm, also two-sided). As well, Photo Rag Satin (310 gsm) and Photo Rag Pearl (320 gsm), both single-sided, may be ordered.
B&H stocks the album covers. There are two options: with or without the red stitching (about USD 134 or 120 respectively).
The websites of the major Toronto dealers don’t show either product; however they are available in Canada at the wholesale level and individual consumers can ask their retailers to order them.
That’s exactly what it is – a hinged tin box just over 4×6 inches containing 30 4.0” x 5.9” photo cards made of PhotoRag paper 308gsm (Figure 17). Again, it comes with no instruction about which is the printable side of the paper; but logically, and on close inspection, the top side is the printable side. So be careful to keep them packed that way until used – it will save you wasted paper.
As well, there are no instructions either with the product package or in the P800 Manual about how to load such small fine art paper sheets into the printer – sheet feeder, or Front Fine Art feed? Trial and error – the Front Fine Art feed will not feed paper this small. So I used the top sheet feeder, created a preset in Page Set-Up for this paper size (same idea as presented above; Figure 18) and in the Lightroom Layout panel set the margins to 0.25 inches all round.
Now, because this is a matte paper it requires matte black ink. In the Epson P800, because the sheet feeder is being used, all the Fine Art Media Types are grayed-out. But the Media Type setting for the profile of this paper is Velvet Fine Art, now not usable. The only matte ink paper type available from the paper menu in the printer driver is Ultra Premium Presentation Matte. Therefore, it is necessary to select this profile in the Lightroom Print Job panel, and in the Develop Module repurpose the Develop edits under soft-proofing for this same paper.
However, this does not resolve the basic mismatch between the paper types – the actual media being Hahn PhotoRag, with the print set-up being for Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Matte. The only way around this is to make a custom profile by printing the profiling target on Hahn PhotoRag, but using the Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Matte Media Type instead of Velvet Fine Art. For purposes of these demos I did not bother to re-profile the paper, but just tried using the Epson matte profile on the Hahn PhotoRag paper, soft-proofed accordingly, and I must say the results are very respectable – quite faithful to the soft-proof (Figure 19).
We have become so accustomed to very large inkjet prints these days that it was kind of a refreshing trip down memory lane to produce these 4×6 prints, which have the atmosphere of the drug-store photos from yesteryear, but of much higher quality. Small can be beautiful and I really like this product.
So what can one use it for: two immediate ideas that come to mind are, say, gifts of family photographs, or reduced size portfolios one can leave with a gallery manager to remember who you are – these can be kept on hand, not in forgotten storage with heaps of other large “objets d’art”.
Availability and Price: For the 4 x 6 inch cards, four paper types are available: Photo Rag 308, Fine Art Pearl, Photo Rag Baryta and Museum Etching Textured. B&H stocks the tin boxes with the Baryta paper for only USD 19.90. The Baryta is a PK paper, which would allow a less restrictive profiling solution. In Canada, Vistek lists the 4 x 6 inch Photo Rag paper at CAD 26.99 for 30 sheets, but not the tin box.
There also exists an 8.3 x 5.8 inch (A5) tin box set, not shown on the B&H website, but they do offer the papers (Photo Rag 308, Fine Art Pearl, Photo Rag Baryta) priced in the range of about USD 30~36 per 30 sheets. In Canada, Vistek lists the A5 set (tin box and paper) with Photo Rag Baryta for CAD 59.99. Clearly, retail inventory is spotty in both Canada and the USA; however, in Canada at least, all of these materials are available at the Canadian wholesale level, but need to be special ordered through a retail outlet.
Well, now that you’ve seen how using these materials is well within the grasp of normal human intelligence (after all, we were able to master them!), I suggest you find a batch or two of good candidate photographs and give them a try. They make for great gifts on family occasions when you’re scratching your head to give something unique and personal. They can memorialize a business relationship, an introduction to a gallery curator, or just serve in your personal collection as alternative ways to store and share your photographs.
The paper quality is truly very good and the display products – album covers and tin boxes are nicely made – they have “class”. I would have preferred a more simplified hinge on the book-album covers, but that’s a quibble, not a fundamental problem.
I would urge Hahnemuhle to provide more fulsome sets of instructions for using these media successfully with several of the more common printers and applications. Meanwhile, the instruction provided here should get you off to a good start.
While the album isn’t exactly cheap, it is a high quality product and good quality presentation materials tend to be on the costly side. They are priced within the range of reasonableness for what they are, at least to judge from the B&H pricing for sales in US dollars.
These products make a statement that printing is more than putting photos on paper – it’s also about the presentation; we agree and we think that Hahnemuhle has done a good job with these products.