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Baryta Photographic Paper – Matte or Glossy

The newest buzz word in giclée photo printing is ‘Baryta’. New to the world of 21st Century digital printing, baryta papers actually have their roots in high quality monochrome printing papers from a hundred years ago.

Baryta = barium-sulphate, a clay-like coating that is applied to a fiber paper. Now on traditional photo papers with light sensitive emulsions it acts to whiten the paper, produces a high degree of reflectivity, and as well provides a ground for the emulsion. Some of the finest photographic papers that were ever created, such as Multigrade IV FB and Ilfobrom Galerie FB, were Baryta coated.

Now, on a new breed of papers designed for giclée photo printing with pigment-based inks (Alden Fine Print & Co. always use pigment based inks for giclée printing) here Baryta is being used not to hold a chemical emulsion but rather to provide a smooth reflective coating, one that is delicious to touch and view at various angles.

Matte vs. Glossy

Anyone who’s ever been through the chemical darkroom must realised that we are now in the Golden Age of Photo Printing. We have a range of papers beyond the imagination of a previous generations, new substrates are realised ever year. Though at somepoint it does come down to one simple choice: matt or glossy.

Matte papers are based on either alpha-cellulose (wood fiber) or cotton rag fiber. Their appeal lies in their “look” and “feel“. These papers are similar to the papers used for traditional fine art painting and illustration. They have a texture – provide a tactile experience that is simply lacking in photo papers (C-Type and giclée), which traditionally have been constructed on a plastic base.

These plastic (resin coated) papers have the advantage of much higher reflectivity and thus they allow for the use of Photo Black ink, rather than the Matte Black ink that fiber papers have till now required. This produces blacker blacks and more saturated colours.

The bottom line is that for the past 10 years we have had the choice of matte papers with their appealing tactile feel but subdued look, with reduced colour gamut and lower dMax, and plastic photo papers with their higher Dmax and more saturated palette but less appealing tactility.

This is the problem that the paper industry has been trying to solve for the past couple of years – produce a paper optimised for pigment inks, which offers a suitable bulk yet smooth surface, along with a high degree of reflectivity, high Dmax, and wider colour gamut.

These new papers are not your average ‘photo paper’, their new form of ammunition is Baryta. We’re delighted to stock several examples. Contact Alden Fine Print & Co, if you’d like to see a sample of your work printed on Baryta.

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The process traditionally known as ‘letterpress’ involves stamping an inked printing plate, comprised of type or graphics, against a sheet of card or paper. The inked plate works like a punch pushing into the material (we call this ‘debossing’) and leaving ink within the indentation. Letterpress has been around for centuries, invented by Gutenberg in the 15th Century it was the beginning of commercial print. Here’s a clip from the brilliant TV series Connections with historian and author James Burke demonstrating the traditional process. Fascinating stuff:

Paper Stock

We’ve carefully selected the Gmund 600gsm 100% cotton board as our go-to material for letterpress printing, its actually milled at 600gsm (meaning it is really bulky and solid), has a luxurious feel, the thickness makes it perfect for handling debossing.


Not to be confused with embossing – debossing is the reverse technique – where type or a graphic is stamped into the material and that indentation is filled with ink. The combination of debossing with letterpress printing is superb, really makes for a unique and 100% bespoke print job. We can ‘blind’ deboss too. This means the indentation is not filled with ink. Like this example.


We’re delighted to offer this product on our online shop, often it’s not simple to engage with traditional craft techniques, but I hope we can demystify the process to make letterpress really accessible.

Perfectionists should note: This is a centuries old process and therefore it’s likely that some imperfections will occur on the final print. We think of these as adding to the character of the process and give it the ‘artisan’ look and feel, we hope you do too. This is not a pixel perfect process, it is handcrafted.


For half a century this was the only printing technique in existence and although the process is largely unchanged, the way we produce printing plates has evolved.

Instead of using the traditional movable lead type (pictured above), printers now use a photo-polymer plate. This new plate material allows you to print more than just typography, now detailed graphics can be incorporated into letterpress.

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High Definition Printing

Our lithographic printers use a process called Hybrid Screening. This is a genius combination of two processes: defined detail that finer line screening FM (Stochastic) creates along with the smoothness of gradients and solids that can only be achieved with traditional AM screening. The combination produces a crisper job than either process on its own, and dazzling end result overall.

These litho printers meet ISO12647-2 colour standards and are audited monthly using the Prinect colour toolbox colour monitoring and calibration software, keeping things tip-top all year round.

With in-press control, the top-notch Perfector Presses automatically reads colour values off every single sheet printed and will detect and correct a colour shift before the human eye can even notice. This allows produce a high quality finish that traditional printers struggle to replicate.

Its a great invention, all of our litho printed products (see our Shop for more) are printed this way. Enjoy.