What Are Metal Prints?

What Are Metal Prints?

For years I printed in-house. I made greeting cards with my images as well as enlargements which were carried in stores and galleries around northern New Mexico. It was fun to visit and restock the shops, fulfill online orders and ship to various locations across the United States and Canada.

But not so fun wrestling with the printer, dealing with jams, wasting quality photographic paper, repeatedly having to order supplies, and watching the price of ink cartridges go up and up. And up.

Eventually, my focus shifted and I wanted to spend more time taking photographs and writing books. And along with doing the books, I had fallen in love with metal prints.

Now, when someone requests an enlargement of an image from one of my books or Facebook posts, I get the details, quote prices, and order metal prints from a professional lab which specializes in them. For many of my customers, it’s the first time they’ve heard of metal prints – and every one of them has been delighted with their photos!

8" x 10" metal print of a Great Blue Heron, with a Mid-Gloss finish.
8″ x 10″ metal print of a Great Blue Heron, with a Mid-Gloss finish

What are Metal Prints?

How Do They Get That Luminosity with Such Depth and Detail?

Metal prints are a fairly new art medium, so it’s natural to wonder just what they are and how they’re made. This application preserves photos by utilizing a unique printing process. Colored dyes are actually infused directly into sheets of aluminum, which have been specially coated and cut to size.

At first, I thought the images might seem cold, and that concerned me. I take photographs primarily of nature scenes and wild animals. So the thought of having them on metal took me back a bit. But I found that my images had depth, crispness and were actually luminous. And the colors are rich and vibrant.

They look much more like the image as it appears on a digital camera’s display screen or on the computer screen – as if suffusedd with light – rather than the flat surface of paper.

Metal prints are surprisingly lightweight. Of course, once you get into much larger sizes there is some additional weight, but nothing close to the weight of conventional enlargements with a substantial wooden frame and glass, for example.

Different Surfaces for the Look You Want

High Gloss

This is the most popular surface and offers a brilliant high gloss with superb detail and vibrancy.

Mid-Gloss

This surface provides very similar detail and vibrant color to high gloss. But there is a slight reduction in glare and this is actually my favorite surface choice.

Satin

This option gives a smooth, soft appearance and has minimal glare.

Sheer Matte

This has a matte finish with minimal glare.

Longer Lasting

I love paper, and the different quality photo papers have excellent image stability. However, metal prints have been tested and shown to have image stabilization which is two to four times that of quality archival photo papers.

“Sounds Neat, But Are They Expensive?”

That is the reaction I often get the first time I mention metal prints. And clearly, metal costs more than paper. But they also last longer and have more depth and luminosity. And metal prints do require a bit more care. You will want to keep your metal prints out of direct sunlight for any extended periods of time.

If you’re thinking about an outdoor display there is an added treatment available for an additional charge. It is important to keep in mind that all metal prints can scratch, so you want to handle them carefully. Otherwise, they are very durable and I believe they’re one of the very best ways to enjoy those special images you want to live with for a long, long time.

The Bottom Line

Here is a ballpark estimate to give you some idea of what metal prints run. Most of my images are crisp up to 20″ x 30″ and I always evaluate them before ordering enlargements to be sure they will have the desired detail before going to print.

Because metal prints are….well, metal…they have sharp edges. Which is why I always order them with a 1/8th rounded corner.

Larger sizes and other framing options are available with quotes upon request. The below estimates will give you an idea based on some of our most popular sizes. As always, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

8″ x 10″ metal print – $43.00/ea

8.5″ x 11″ – $57.00/ea

11″ x 14″ – $84.00/ea

I also recommend either a Float Hanger for the back – $6.00/ea

or a 3/4″ Inset Frame with Wire Hanger (my preferred choice for anything larger than 4″x6″ metal prints) – $19.00/ea

The back of an 8" x 10" 3/4" Inset Frame with Wire Hanger.
3/4″ Inset Frame with Wire Hanger

You may also order a Bamboo Stand – $18.00/ea

Metal print on Bamboo Stand
Bamboo Stand

An Acrylic Stand – $20.00/ea

Or a Black Wood Easel – $10.00/ea

The Heart of the Matter

You could say that photography involves the art of capturing an image while printing employs the science of presenting what was captured. And today the options and possibilities are nearly endless.

I still remember my resistance, frustration, and excitement as an amateur shutterbug, upon switching from film to digital. Resistance because change can involve a steep learning curve and be rather challenging; frustrating because with my first digital camera there was a split-second delay between when I depressed the shutter and the image was actually captured; and exciting because images were immediately accessible for viewing, while poor images were easy to delete. Gone were the days of developing a whole roll of film and having only a few images with which I was really pleased.

These days, it may take me hours to capture a hoped-for photo, but just as soon as it’s been taken I can see it, wirelessly download it straight away and share it on social media, save it for an upcoming book, or offer it as a metal print.

Given the endless beauty and wonder of nature, my heart resonates with this delightful quote by a remarkable American photographer who said:

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976)

Linda Compton

Linda Compton believes that it’s never too late to choose joy despite Life’s many betrayals. Anyone can experience the enlivening beauty of Nature. By observing and applying Nature’s Laws, we can discover how to live our Dreams and become our personal best - in mind, body and spirit. Linda is an ordained Presbyterian clergywoman, Nature photographer, joyful entrepreneur and best-selling Amazon author.
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