Ilford – traditional masters of darkroom black and white papers – have just released one of the first inkjet papers specifically optimised for black & white printing – Galerie Prestige Gold Mono Silk. The surface has been designed to be reminiscent of traditional ‘F-type’ darkroom prints, and has a long tonal range that ensures crisp whites and inky deep blacks. Ilford Galerie Gold Mono Silk is an acid free fibre based paper, 270gsm, with a semi gloss finish that is very close to full gloss. Compatible with dye and pigment inks, so really any modern inkjet printer, but ideally one with multiple black inks and a good black and white printing mode (like the Epson 3000 or Epson 3880 – both of these make it trivially easy to produce excellent, neutral, smooth toned black and white images).
For really high impact black and whites you need a crisper white to really extend the tonal range and give maximum contrast to work with. And that’s what Ilford has done with this paper – they’ve created a really clean white finish – the L* brightness is 96 which isn’t exceptionally high but it’s the colouring that just gives it a really clean looking and neutral finish. Optical brighteners are used to achieve this whiteness of course (much like pretty much every traditional BW darkroom paper had OBAs in them!). And, unlike Galerie Gold Fibre Silk (it’s colour friendly sister paper) – the gloss differential is well controlled. And unlike Hahnemuhle’s efforts in this area, the paper curl in initial samples appears to be well controlled as well (I don’t know why but there’s something about the composition of crisp, white papers that causes paper curl!). So it’s got a great tonal range, pleasing classic fibre gloss surface, and good physical handling characteristics.
Put simply, I think that this is the sort of paper anybody really comfortable with black and white images will feel at home with – it’s just the right thing to create that classic mono experience with your shots.
Ilford Galerie Gold Mono Silk is available to order now with
stock arriving early April. We expect it to be popular so if you’re
keen, best to order now to make sure you secure some of the first stock
into the country!