Monday, March 4, 2013

Alternative Print Surfaces: Metal

There are many alternatives to having regular paper prints made. The most common these days is probably canvas prints. But other materials are still fair game. We have previously talked about transferring images onto other surfaces such as canvas, glass, and wood. Today I want to talk a little bit about the option of having prints made on metal. Now, you can always transfer your images yourself onto metal via this technique. But, for the following examples I used a print service to do it for me. The end result is different then a transfer would be. There are numerous places where you can get your images printed on metal, but the following examples were made by Bay Photo. (*This post is in no way associated with or endorsed by Bay Photo, it’s just where I chose to get my prints made and where I'm using as an example service.)

Bay Photo states,MetalPrints represent a new art medium for preserving photos by infusing dyes directly into specially coated aluminum sheets. Because the image is infused into the surface and not on it, your images will take on an almost magical luminescence.”

They offer four finishes, multiple shape and corner options, and multiple hanging options for metal prints. Bay Photo also offers a sample kit so that you can get the same photo printed with all four of their finishes to see which you like before purchasing a large metal print in a finish you may be unfamiliar with.

(The below images are scans of metal prints. Keep in mind that the glossy and matte finishes are lost on the computer screen, as are some of the true color and luminescent qualities of the finished prints)



The two sheer finishes look the most like what you would think of when someone says, “metal print”. The texture and detail of the metal come through the image and finish, especially in the lighter/brighter areas of the image.

The sheer glossy has a high gloss coating that is fairly reflective and mimics a glass top. When you change your viewpoint or slightly tilt one of these prints, it almost has a 3-dimensional feel to the image.



The sheer matte doesn’t have that glass-like shine, but still has some shine from the metal itself coming through.

The high gloss and satin finishes look much more like traditional prints than the sheer finishes do, but are still noticeably printed on metal when held. They do however show more detail in the image, since the detail of the metal doesn’t show through. The satin finish is fairly matte, and the high gloss is similar to the sheer glossy in that it is very reflective and glass-like. 

Similar to paper prints, I would say the colors (if using a color image) pop the most in the two glossy surfaces, both the sheer gloss and the high gloss.

So why would you want to have your images printed on metal instead of paper? Bay Photo offers this explanation, “While photo papers have fantastic image stability, Xenon Light Stability Testing results show that the image stability of MetalPrints is 2 to 4 times the image stability of traditional silver based photo papers.” Because it’s so durable, you can also forgo the mattes and glass- the “ultra-hard scratch-resistant surface is waterproof/weatherproof and can be cleaned easily with any commercial glass cleaner.” Another reason may be that the subject matter of the image matches the material, or maybe you’re just looking for something different. Either way, it’s always fun to explore new materials. 

The original digital image shown for color and texture comparison to the metal prints

And P.S.- For the super photo geek, camera fanatic, or as an idea for a sign for your photo business, they also offer your metal prints in the shape of a camera!



- Article and photos by Jenn Fletcher, BlondeShot Creative

9 comments:

  1. I've had some aluminum prints done. For the right photos it's absolutely brilliant. I don't know f I would have fine arti portraits done on it though. I don't think it would be to my liking.

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  2. this is interesting I will have to try it

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  3. Finally, a good article that explains the medium simply and to the point!

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  4. A nicely written and simple explanation of the Metal print surface process.

    Thanks!
    DCAlbrecht

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  5. Meloni Hinson3/21/13, 5:38 PM

    That sounds like great ideas for Christmas presents! Thanks for the info!

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  6. I have often thought of trying metal transfer prints vs. using a print service. This makes me want to try both. The company listed seems interesting to use. I wonder the pricing and turn around time when sending them off to such a service? Thanks for sharing. EW

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  7. Christian Stromberg3/22/13, 7:57 AM

    Nice overview of this interesting alternative!

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  8. I love the metal prints; this is a great description of the differences.

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  9. Keith T Jones3/27/13, 6:25 PM

    I have been printing on aluminum at home, for a couple years, have had great results with B&W, not so much with color. Printing color on metallic paper on the other hand has been nothing short of brilliant.

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