Few words evoke the mystery and art of photography like “darkroom.” While many contemporary photographers spend their days in well lit, well ventilated studios, there’s still a desire for photo prints that channel the esthetics of older processes.
Moab’s Juniper Baryta Rag 305 is one such paper. It’s a 100 percent cotton, true baryta (barium sulfate) fiber paper which promises the density and tonal reproductions of fiber-based darkroom papers without having to splash around in chemicals to get there. This double weight coated inkjet fine art paper joins Moab’s other all-cotton papers including the Entrada Rag family.
Juniper Baryta Rag 305 is available in 25 sheet boxes sized at 5×7-, 8.5×11- and 13 x 19-inch, plus A2, A4, and rolls sized 17-, 24- and 44-inches wide by 50 feet long.
For our tests, we paired with NJ photographer and director David Patiño who printed several monochrome and color images from his archives on the Juniper Baryta Rag 305. Our printer of choice was Epson’s new SureColor P800—a 17-inch companion to the P600 we reviewed earlier this year. For paper, we used cut sheets in 13 x 19 inch sizes. Prints were made using Moab’s ICC profiles through Adobe Photoshop.
What We Liked
For black-and-white prints, Patiño told us he was very impressed with how much detail the paper was able to hold, particularly in darkened and shadowy regions of the image. Thanks to the paper’s modest surface gloss, whites glistened without an overly aggressive sheen and the overall impression was a warm tone that really enriched the image. Color prints reproduced excellently as well.
The paper has a smooth texture on the printing surface and a nice cotton fiber backing that is moderately sturdy and definitely durable enough for mounting. It feels every bit a fine art paper.
What We Didn’t
There’s not much to quibble with, to be honest. Price-wise, the Juniper is right in league with other fine-art baryta papers from Canson and others. The texture straddles a line between glossy and matte, so photographers looking for a more decisive texture may want to go elsewhere. We didn’t subject our prints to the kind of fade resistance torture-testing performed by Wilhelm Imaging Research and this particular paper hasn’t been run through Wilhelm’s lab, so we don’t know for sure if the Juniper will offer the kinds of longevity that Epson is promising with its own papers on its new SureColor printers.
For many traditional darkroom vets, fiber-based papers are a go-to choice, prized for their stability, tonal reproduction and exhibition quality. We think the Juniper Baryta Rag 305 checks all three boxes.