Avoiding Printer Problems

Today’s Post by Kevin Elliott, DigitalMD

Kevin Elliott is one of those rare individuals who has both a grasp of the photographic process as well as the technology of digital imaging, especially in the area that at once seems easy but is difficult to implement—getting correct color out of your ink-jet printer. I sat down with Kevin and we talked about issues facing the photographer who wants to produce the best possible results and here (in Part 2) are some of the most common problems he has encountered. If you missed part 1, it’s here.

kevin.sqaure#5: Extreme cleaning may be required. When you’re doing nozzle checks, especially if you haven’t run the printer in a while, it may require from one to seven head cleaning runs to get the nozzles unclogged. But sometimes that won’t fix the problem. Most printers have standard and extreme cleaning modes. In extreme mode, more ink is pushed through the heads, so you use more ink to push the clog out. It takes twice as much ink to clean the heads but there may be no other way to get that head clean.

#6: Keep your printer covered to keep out the dust, etc. In the old days people in offices would cover their typewriters before they went home for the day. Kevin covers his large format ink-jet printer with a baby crib cover but there are covers out there for printers and Joe has seen them Amazon. Even throwing a sheet over the top of your printer will keep it clean.

#7: If there’s room, you should put a humidifier in your printer when you’re not using it. It can be anything from a small tray with a wet sponge in it. This is especially useful in dry climates because if you keep the humidly up it will help keep head unclogged. Joe uses a small Tupperware container to hold a sponge he got from Target and periodically checks to make sure it was wet and refilled with water accordingly. It cost less than $2. Important—don’t forget to take the “humidifier” out before you turn on the printer.

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#8: When you get down to the point when you try to do a head cleaning but the printer won’t let you, you should have another ink cartridge on hand, put it in to do your head cleaning, then pull it out replacing  with you old cartridge(s) until they, really, really run dry. There’s still be a lot of ink left in those older cartridges.

#9: If you want to get the best color out of your printer: It all comes down to workflow and how you set up your printer.

  • Choose the correct printer and make sure you select “Photoshop manages color,” not “Printer manages color”
  • Select the appropriate ICC profile for your printer and paper combination
  • Turn color management off, which means turning off any color management other than what you set.
  • Choose your Rendering Intent. Usually “Perceptual” works best for smooth gradients and flesh tones. While “Relative Colorimetric” helps match specific colors. However, if everything falls within gamut, it generally won’t matter. Also check the “Black Point Compensation” box. It won’t affect Perceptual but will make a big difference on Relative Colorimetric.
  • In Print Setup, make sure to pick the correct paper/type. It does make a difference for paper thickness and ink limits.
  • Use Soft Proofing and Gamut Warnings to help determine if you need to make adjustments to your image to achieve the desired results. Your monitor should be calibrated and profiled as well.
  • Last but not least, be consistent. Make sure your lighting is daylight balanced and your viewing area has the same lighting throughout the day.

Author: Joe Farace

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