Technical Talk

Canvas vs. Metal prints

  • April 4, 2023

From it’s inception, photography has been plagued by reflections in the glass that was required to protect the print. This is how it had always been—those looking at photos would almost always have to move their heads to see around the reflections. Most people don’t even realize they do it, because they have done it their entire lives—it is just a part of looking at art behind glass. Unfortunately, because of these reflections, many times an entire photo cannot be enjoyed at once, and the glare reduces color by over 30%, even when you don’t notice it.

Printing on canvas has taken over photographic printing, especially larger prints. Canvas prints are varnished like paintings, thus eliminating the need for glass, so canvas prints have no reflections or glare at all. This makes the colors in them rich and vibrant, as well as lighter and safer to hang. It also eliminates the matting that was required to keep the glass off the print, so the same footprint on the wall will have a larger image displayed. Additionally, canvas has a texture to it, which brings an image to life—it ‘feels’ much more real, like looking at an actual scene instead of a picture. Without the glare of glass, the full color of the image shows, making them vibrant and beautiful, and the entire image can be seen from any angle in the room.

More recently, printing on other surfaces has become available, such as metal, acrylic, and glass, with metal prints being the most widely used. While these surfaces provide amazing vibrancy—an immediate ‘wow’ factor—the glare and reflections are even worse than that of glass. It’s almost impossible to position them so that one can view the entire image at once, and it won’t be possible from every position in a room. Also, while the texture in canvas brings an image to life, the ultra smoothness of metal has the opposite effect—it makes them flat and lifeless. Metal prints provide an ultra-vibrant, unnatural, flat feeling image that is difficult if not impossible to see all at once. Once the novelty of the ‘shiny object’ wears off, the reflections and glare become genuine irritations—not ideal for something that is supposed to make a room feel pleasant and welcoming for decades.

My customers buy my work to set the mood in a room and to take them to those places. Canvas prints provide a richly colored, natural scene that feels real, and allows people to feel like they are there, experiencing the scene for themselves. Furthermore, they can be enjoyed from everywhere in the room. They have a refined and classic look in solid wood frames, and a contemporary feel in wraps, but always provide the room with the ambiance desired. For this reason, I offer my images printed on canvas.

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