What is fibre based paper?

Fibre based paper is regarded as the premier photographic paper to use when printing black and white analogue photography. We print only with fibre based paper and use our experience to give a simplified explanation of what is fibre based paper.

Our definition:

Fibre base paper:
Fibre based paper is made from wood fibres (alpha grade) or cotton fibres (plant grade) as a cellulose pulp base layer, with a surface coating of baryta (barium sulphate) to aid an even surface and provide a key for the photographic emulsion layer(s) or gelatin layer.

So, let’s break the explanation up into little excerpts:

Fibre based paper is made from wood fibres (alpha grade)(1) or cotton fibres (plant grade)(2) as a cellulose pulp(3) base layer, with a surface coating of baryta(4) (barium sulphate) to aid an even surface and provide a key for the photographic emulsion layer(s) or gelatin layer(5).

  1. wood fibres (alpha grade) – the fibres from the heart (or middle) of a felled tree;
  2. cotton fibres (plant grade) – the fibres from cotton linters* or sometimes cotton rags**;
  3. cellulose pulp – fibrous material made with the cellulose fibres separated from the wood or cotton;
  4. baryta (barium sulphate) – layer includes some other chemical elements and often optical brighteners;
  5. photographic emulsion layer(s) or gelatin layer – layer to hold the light sensitive silver salts in suspension which form the image.

* cotton linters – cotton fibres left on a cotton seed after a ginning process (separating cotton fibre from the seed).
** cotton rags – cotton clippings from textile mills (1st use of cotton material).

Exploded simplified view showing layers of a fibre based paper.

Simplified diagram view of the construction of a fibre based paper – yes, this is our *favourite* graphic reused!

Key points:

  • no coating layer above the emulsion layer;
  • easily absorbs processing chemicals, such as developer and fixer etc, toning chemicals or water
  • usually a heavy weight of paper;
  • superior image characteristics;
  • archival permanence;
  • not suited to machine processing or machine handling when wet;
  • suited to hand processing and handling when wet;
  • easily damaged when wet;
  • slower overall print production times;
  • open to environmental interference when dry.

 

This has been a Hand Printed Photos production
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