Baryta budget alternative

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Mark McCormick Senior Member • Posts: 1,534
Re: Baryta budget alternative

dRomano wrote:

...A couple of other interesting things I learned were that my old darkroom prints I made 20 or 30 years ago are in fact not OBA free and still shine about the same as my preferred ink jet papers, despite being displayed for 20 years. That put things in perspective for me.

Yes, I have an Ansel Adams print that he made and signed in 1978. Printed on Oriental Seagull paper, it definitely lights up with 365nm UV flashlight. OBAs started appearing in traditional photo papers in the late 1950s, early 1960s. By the 1970s, they were pretty ubiquitous in many photo papers.  I have always displayed my Adams print in rooms with very low illumination levels, so the OBAs remain in excellent condition today as does the entire print. However, I've seen more than one Adams print of that era where the OBAs have definitely faded, and it kind of takes away the pristine beauty of the delicate highlight tones in a print made by someone with Adam's printmaking skills.

Also, bear in mind that traditional darkroom photo paper uses photographic gelatin as the image binder layer. Gelatin is a swellable polymer so it encapsulates the OBA dyes quite well whereas modern microporous inkjet coatings do not. So OBAs in modern inkjet papers are more susceptible to burnout from both light and ozone sources. I've witnessed low level ozone levels fade the OBAs in a modern RC inkjet print in a few weeks!

Also, I like to mount prints without glass, so they need to be sprayed. The sprays have good UV inhibitors, so, easy right? Think again. Put a couple of coats of spray on the print then shine your UV flashlight on it. Lots of speckles. You can really see how unevenly the spray goes on. I don't know how many coats give full protection, but I stop after 4 or 6 because it not only can get expensive, but the sheen of the print gets too affected by the spray. Plus dust collects, and God forbid a drip happens because you got an itch on your foot while spraying the last coat, etc!

Right, the most popular protective sprays have very low polymer solids content so that one or two coats is still a very thin coating. As such, and despite the claims of UV resistance by the manufacturers, these protective sprays aid in light fastness not by eliminating UV but by sealing the microporosity of the image binder layer thus reducing light induced photo-oxidation by impeding moisture and oxygen flow into the image layer. And as you note, by the time you apply more than a couple of coats, the original surface aesthetic of the print paper starts to change in a typically less desirable direction.

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