By Stan Sholik
As photographers strive to set themselves apart from their competition, many find offering a unique look to their clients for their prints is a brand-enhancing way to stand out. Booksmart Studio is providing just such an option with inkjet printable aluminum. Photographers with a compatible inkjet printer can create samples, portfolio pieces, and final prints for clients as easily as they create inkjet prints on common media. The look is unique, often three dimensional, and is sure to set your work apart from your competitors.
The five available surfaces of inkjet printable media are, left to right, Satin White, Matte Silver, Satin Silver, Brushed Silver, and Satin Gold.
Five different surfaces are available for the fine art media aluminum sheets that are coated to accept most dye and pigment inks. Satin White has the look of smooth luster paper and is best for images with high detail and saturated colors. Satin Silver has a very fine grain structure that also lends itself to detailed images, and the surface reflects light back through the image making it almost three dimensional when viewed from certain angles.
The Satin White media has the look of smooth luster paper with
high sharpness and saturation. I muted the saturation somewhat
when making this print.
The surface of Satin Gold media is similar in reflectance to Satin Silver, but has an appearance somewhere between brass and 24k gold. This tends to mute saturated colors, and I found it perfect for a bridal portrait where softness is a virtue. Booksmart’s Matte Silver media also provides a muted look, but without the three dimensionality of Satin Gold. Matte Silver also appears somewhat yellowish under certain lighting conditions, but far less so than Satin Gold.
This photo doesn't begin to do justice to the Satin Gold print that
is far more beautiful. As light reflects from the print at different
angles, the depth of the photo changes from two dimensional
to three dimensional.
Brushed Silver is the final surface option and it is my personal favorite. With the texture of brushed aluminum sheet metal, it’s probably not the choice for romantic portraits or for weddings. But the infrared landscape photo I printed on it is just amazing, as is a commercial still life. The illusion of depth is outstanding, as is the ability to hold a deep black and clean white.
An infrared image printed on Brushed Silver appears positive in
some areas and almost negative in others while retaining the
surface pattern of a brushed aluminum sheet metal. Blacks are
deep and rich, and whites are clean with good detail.
All of these media have an adhesive backing protected by a peel off sheet. This makes mounting easy. Two different thicknesses are available, 0.005 inch foil or 0.020 inch sheets. Any printer that has a straight pass-through will print on the media. I printed 8.5x11-inch sheets of the 0020 inch media on an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 and a Canon imagePrograf iPF6400 using ICC profiles provided by Booksmart Studio. The Epson printing was totally straightforward.
The 24-inch Canon isn’t designed to print on media this small loaded from the front. A quick call to Canon tech support brought the suggestion to tape the metal to an 11 x 14-inch sheet before feeding it into the printer and that worked perfectly. Prints from both printers are gorgeous, each with its look even with the same image.
Satin Silver has a very fine grain surface that results in an accurate color reproduction of the original image with excellent detail. As with Satin Gold, light reflects back through the inkjet layer producing a three dimensional look at certain angles.
The Matte Silver media has a slight yellow cast that adds warmth
to the image. The same file is used for this print that is used for
the Satin Silver print. Differences in reflectance account for the
variation in density, but the color difference is a result of the
different color casts of the media.
Care is required in handling the metal sheets, both before and after printing. To avoid oily fingerprints that would interfere with printing, cotton gloves should be used when loading the printer. Gentle handling is also required to avoid bending corners or warping the sheet, which would prevent it from feeding properly through the printer.
After printing, the surface should be coated or laminated after allowing the print to dry for 20 minutes. Booksmart Studio recommends two or three coats of Clearstar AFA Semi-Gloss coating followed by two to eight coats of Clearstar AFA Gloss coating to reach your desired gloss level.
More information is available from the Booksmart Studio website. A sample pack of 8.5x11-inch sheets of 0.020 inch thick media is available from Booksmart Studios for $49.30. Packages of sheets of a single type are available in sizes from 8.5x11 inches to 20x80 inches. Visit the Booksmart Studio site for pricing.