Printing papers are a matter of personal choice. They are an aesthetic decisions, much as how to crop or whether to convert a colour image to monochrome. Some folks like it one way, some another.
My taste in papers tends toward the simple, even classic types. I prefer papers that use Photo Black ink, because of the greater dMax (blacker blacks), and I like smooth but not too glossy surfaces. The traditional air dried F surface, in other words. For the past two years eitherIlford Gold Fiber Silk, or the very similarCanson Baryta Photographiquehave been my mainstays, and more recently, for portfolio presentation,Canson Infinity Platine.
On July 18, 2011 a new paper was announced by theMoabdivision ofLegion Paper, and a few days later a sample box crossed my desk. Slickrock Metallic Pearl 260is its proper name – simplySlickrockfrom now on, and it really is something special.
Slickrock isn’t the type of paper that would normally attract me. I prefer rag papers, preferably without OBA’s. Slickrock is resin coated paper (plastic, in other words) and most definitely has OBAs. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. This paper is lovely. I went through a 50 sheet box in a weekend, exploring its characteristics with various types of images.
Leica M9 with 50mm Summilux @ ISO 160
The surface has an ultra-smooth pearlescent finish with a metallic sheen. It’s of medium weight (260 gsm) and is acid free. It is claimed to work well with both dye and pigment inks, though the use of pigments is recommended.
The so-called “Pearl” finish means that the paper has a semi-gloss – a sheen but without hard reflections. It seems to have a very tough surface and doesn’t show scuffs or fingerprints the way some papers do. This is an ideal paper where heavy handling is likely. It is claimed to be waterproof.
Of course Slickrock isn’t the only metallic surface paper available. In the wet darkroom days we had (and still have) Kodak Endura Metallic, while LexJet, Mitsibishi and Red River all have metallic surface papers. Given that there are only a few paper mills in the world, it could even be that all of these papers come from the same mill, with only moderate difference in coating and paper thickness. But, that doesn’t detract from the fact that Moab’sSlickrockis very appealing.
If you ever printed Cibachrome (or had them printed for you) you’ll probably like Slickrock. It has a similar sheen, but without Cibachrome’s contrast problems.
Moab Slickrock = Solid. Canson Baryta Photographique = Wireframe
Above is a comparison gamut plot against my current favourite paper,Canson Baryta Photographique. As can be seen Slickrock has a somewhat smaller gamut in the lighter tonalities and colours, but because of the paper’s high brightness this is not readily apparent in prints.
In summary, this is a a unique paper that will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and likely won’t become most people’s everyday fine-art paper. But, it has a unique and very appealing “look“, especially with B&W images.Slickrockis available in all popular cut sheet and roll sizes.
At this time Moab only has a limited number of printer profiles for Slickrock available on its web site. I did my testing on an Epson 3880, for which there was a profile available for downloading.
I urge you to try a sample pack and discover whether this fascinating new paper deserves a place in your own paper line-up. It has in mine.