Aluminyze is a fairly new company that offers very unique printing applications for photographers and photo-enthusiasts. After logging in with Facebook or creating your own Aluminyze account, you can upload your own high-res image file and create a print. You choose your background, whether you want it to be white or silver, and then the surface finish, glossy or matte. By default, the images come with an easel for display, though you can choose a clear acrylic pedestal for an additional fee. Once the print is designed, it will then be embedded in an aluminum plate and shipped to your door with whichever pedestal you deem fit during the ordering process.
This new product offers modern-day photographers the ability to print on something that has the unique aesthetic of antique tintypes. I was very excited about the opportunity when I was offered a review, and I chose to print the same image using different surfaces and finishes so as to analyze the product’s suitability for different types of photography. I also wanted to evaluate the contrast and color difference between the two. One photo was printed on the silver surface with a glossy finish, and the other was printed on a white surface with a matte finish. Both of the images are beautiful, but they each have distinct properties.
The silver surface with a glossy finish punches up the contrast of the image. The colors really, truly *pop* on the silver background. This blows out the highlights, and makes the darks deeper. The glossy finish, I think, only serves to accentuate the coloring even more. For photographers that like very high contrast, punchy images, the silver with gloss is a great choice. It would also be very well suited for photo enthusiasts that are unfamiliar with how to color balance their digital images on the computer, because more often than not when color balancing and editing photographs, people will find themselves increasing the contrast and saturation. The Aluminyze process with the silver background and glossy finish seems to do this naturally.
In the photo that was printed with the white background and matte finish, there is more detail because the highlights are not blown out. As a result of it’s lower contrast, there is a greater spectrum of color present in the image. The marble pillars and wall tiles have a brown cast in them instead of being stark white in areas, there is more depth in the shadows, and the graffiti is a little bit less distinct. There is also less noise. Of the two, this is the image that I prefer. The details are more crisp and clear, and the graffiti serves as less of a focal point because it is less saturated and therefore somewhat less distinct.
If color accuracy and image integrity is of high importance, I would suggest lowering the contrast and saturation on the image file before submitting it to Aluminyze for printing on the silver background with the glossy finish. There is nothing at all wrong with the print, it is absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it when I first received it, I literally said “Wow! Look at that!” when I opened it and saw it for the first time. It definitely has it’s own distinct aesthetic though. It is a more stylized piece that becomes more about the vibrant colors and the graffiti at the end of the hallway. Some people enjoy having this effect in all of their photos, and it would be especially well suited for them. It would also be well suited for people who aren’t going to do any color balancing before submitting their image to Aluminyze for printing. If you are a professional photographer like me, and color accuracy and detail integrity are what you are looking for, I would recommend printing on the white surface with a matte finish. It looks like a beautiful C-print from a color wet lab, but with striking tonality afforded to it by the metal it is embedded in.
The aluminum is a good thickness: not so thick that it is garish, and not so thin that it is fragile. The acrylic stand that I ordered with my images is the perfect way to display my Aluminyze photos on top of the bookcase in my studio. I tried to mar the surface of the print out of curiosity to see how durable it is, and was unable to scratch the image with my fingernail or keys, so there is no question as to the fact that these photos are built to last. I also tried bending the aluminum by hand but I could not. The company delivers on exactly what they promise: durable, high quality, beautiful photographic prints. I am so thrilled with the quality of this product that I will probably order more in the future. I give this product 5 out of 5 gears as I simply cannot give it high enough praise, though the prints differ in detail and contrast I love them both equally as they each have their own unique aesthetic. The only improvement I could suggest is offering different sizes, and they have already stated that those are forthcoming.