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Fine Art Buying Guide

What’s the difference between a Silver Gel and an Archival Pigment print? How can you ensure you’re buying an authentic limited edition artwork? Our experts break it all down for you in our Fine Art Buyer’s Guide.

Print Production Processes

There are many ways of putting image to paper. From pencil to paint, from ink and dye to plates, metals, silvers, platinum and chemicals – imaging is constantly evolving. The number of processes is almost endless. Today, there are photo labs, commercial printers, photocopiers, offset presses for large quantity runs, wide format presses for billboards, and more. Each method has its individual merits and fulfills its purpose admirably.

Fine Art printing is a different entity, however. It demands special care and the highest respect for the image, the process and the final print, as well as an unrelenting attention to detail. Our Fine Art prints are produced only through premium processes, some old and some new. They are printed by professionals who are masters of their craft. Our collective respect for each image — from the instant it is captured to the moment it is produced — is clearly evident in each print.

Silver Gelatin Process

Silver Gelatin prints are black and white prints in the classic photographic sense. This traditional process has existed since the 1880s and has remained as the standard black and white photographic process to this day. These prints are produced from original negatives and from digital files. They offer consistent and neutral image tone with no cast, as well as strong blacks, detailed highlights and a superb tonal range in between. Our Silver Gelatin prints are produced on fiber-based paper and processed in traditional black and white chemistry. We choose Silver Gelatin production for black and white images that are truly timeless. These are museum-quality archival photographs that will last well beyond a lifetime.

TRANSLATION: Silver Gelatin Prints have a glossy, fiber-textured surface. The prints are never flat as they are organic and processed wet, then left to dry naturally.

Archival Chromogenic Prints

Archival Chromogenic prints are produced by exposing an image on photographic paper and then processing it through methods of photographic chemistry. This process was developed by Kodak in the 1940s and became a photographic standard soon after. These prints can be produced from original negatives or from digital files. The resulting prints offer superior color saturation and fidelity. This process optimizes the enlargement capacity, resolution and contrast of the image, and offers an extended color gamut for rich colors and attractive skin tones. Our Archival Chromogenic prints are produced on photo papers with matte, glossy and metallic finishes. Photo exhibitors and galleries worldwide hold Chromogenics in high regard for their lifelong archival qualities and vivid print characteristics. We choose Archival Chromogenic production for color and toned images that have a “photographic” feel to them. Archival Chromogenic prints may also be referred to as C prints, Digital C prints and Lambda prints.

TRANSLATION: Archival Chromogenic Prints are photographs that have a similar look and feel to a set of 5×7 photographs that have been freshly developed at your local photo shop.

Silver RC Process

Silver RC prints, or Silver Resin-Coated prints, share production characteristics with Silver Gelatin prints and Archival Chromogenic prints. They are produced from both original negatives and digital files. This process exposes the image on black and white photographic paper. The image is then processed in traditional black and white chemistry. These photos have a pearl finish, no color cast and are truly neutral black and white. Silver RC prints offer rich blacks, bright detailed whites and an unprecedented range of grey tones. We choose Silver RC production for images that have a distinctive black and white photo feel. Silver RC prints share the same archival qualities as Silver Gelatin prints. They are sometimes referred to as Black and White C prints, RC prints or Black and White RCs.

TRANSLATION: Silver RC Prints are true black and white photographs that have a similar feel and finish to those of Archival Chromogenic prints. They maintain the full tonal range of a Silver Gelatin print without the wavy fiber finish.

Archival Pigment Prints

Archival Pigment prints are printed with archival pigment inks on archival Fine Art paper. They are produced from digital files and offer continuous tones, smooth transitions and a vibrant, true-to-life color range. The process originated in the late 1980s and is respected by Fine Art experts, world-renowned galleries and passionate collectors. Since the inception of this process, technological advancements have led to higher resolution prints, highly archival pigments and inks, and a more environmentally-friendly print process. Prints are produced on Fine Art paper with matte and baryta finishes. We choose the Archival Pigment process for color and black and white images that warrant a more artistic approach to printmaking. Archival Pigment prints may also be referred to as Inkjets, Iris prints or Giclées.

TRANSLATION: An Archival Pigment print has an artist’s feel, as it is created with inks. Its appearance is closer to that of a painting than a photograph while maintaining the energy and life of the image.