Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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So, I got a deal where I get a deeply discounted photo print on metal. I'm trying to come up with a good photo to see what metal can do for me. What should I look for in a good photo to test it out with. What characteristics (Colors, textures, portaits? etc) should I look for in a photograph that would go nicely on metal?

I should say, I'm not really interested in a test image per say, I want a photo that will look good, so I can show it off and whatnot. It's expensive enough that even with the first print at a discount, I don't want to waste it...

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I print on Kodak metallic paper a lot. (Endura). Some shots work really well on it, some just don't. If the shot has lots of saturated colors, or large dark sections, then printing on the metallic paper works. Of course a test print is cheap and if I'm unsure I just print both.

Now for directly on metal, that's a bit different. It is expensive enough that you want to get it right. I've only done it three times and all three times I chose a photo that I had already printed on metallic paper and I was happy. I just wasn't willing to risk it!

Now the next thing you need to know is that printing on metal results in a frameless piece. This is actually pretty nice in a modern setting but they are much smaller than you would think. For example, I print a lot of 10x20" prints. Put that in matted frame with a 2" border and a 0.5" frame and you have a 15x25" piece. This is a great size on a wall. But print a 10x20" on metal and, well, it is smaller than 15x25! So you are tempted to go bigger. My biggest is 20x24" on metal. Looks great but man, it wasn't cheap. It was for a juried show so I didn't mind the expense, but there is no way I can stock the gallery with pieces like that, too much upfront money!

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The size of a photo I paid for is 20x24. Only was $50, but still... – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 3 '12 at 4:03

You could start with a standard test image and see for yourself how different features will turn out using that discounted service. AlloyBox FAQ suggests that laminated methods may look messy in edges, so you'll want to have detail in edges on your test image. IMHO printing on metal will give best effect for photos of sparkling or metal things.

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You can of course go for a standard test image but I would suggest something that you would want to put on later prints, too.

If you do Landscapes then print a Landscape, etc... I haven't had the chance to print on metal but my image would show the supposedly vibrant colours and some areas with fine detail.

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One shot I recently did was of a boat on very still water - I think really smooth textures and tones translate well onto metallic paper.

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