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Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-14-2009, 09:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have unfortunately had to make a lot of changes to my computer setup over the last six months and now I have run up against a problem and do not know which way to turn. I had my computer and my monitor die within a week of each other which required me to replace both. I have never done a lot of my own printing from PhotoShop due to the complexities involved in getting all of the pieces to play nice with each other but prior to my new computer and monitor acquisitions when I wanted to print something the results were acceptable and now they are not and I have no idea which way to turn first.

I have an HP Workstation with a 3.0 Ghz Pentium D processor and loads of RAM. The computer is loaded with Windows XP Pro. My monitor is an HP w2207h 22" LCD monitor. My printer is a six color Epson Stylus Photo R320. I am using Adobe PhotoShop CS2 and I work 99% of the time with .jpg images.

I have just finished designing a Comp Card for myself and it looks good on my monitor but when I printed the Comp Card the images look horrible. I really don't know how to describe how they look other than to say they look 'solarized' and the faces of the models I used in the Comp Card look pasty with sunken eyes and almost no detail at all.

I have done nothing with the Adobe Gamma although it is in the Startup folder on my hard drive. My present system is not calibrated or profiled and that is not something I really want to undertake due to all of the nightmare stories I have heard about Profiles going berzerk. Also, I do not make any money from prints I do myself at home, I just like to be able to print an 8 x 10 every once in while to give to someone or to put in my book.

Years ago when I bought my first photo printer I used to make 'seat of the pants' calibrations ie: if I print an image and it comes out light and a little over saturated I adjust all images I print to be a bit darker and slightly less saturated and this has always served me well but in this instance with so much wrong I don't know where to start to fix the problem.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-15-2009, 01:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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First off I need to say you really need to profile at least your monitor or you'll never really know what you've got. It's not really hard to do, the hardware is getting cheaper all the time. But since your stated you don't really want to do that then you might try this. Do you have any files that looked good on your old system and have not been modified since then? If so then load one up in photoshop and adjust the monitor until it looks close to the way it did before.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-15-2009, 09:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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For your prints to "... look 'solarized' and the faces of the models I used in the Comp Card look pasty with sunken eyes and almost no detail at all," obviously something is seriously wrong. (For those who do not know what a "solarized" print looks like, go look it up.) At this point I would not wonder about Adobe Gamma, or get sidetracked by the fact that you have not calibrated your monitor. Here are the things I would do:

First and foremost, I would make sure that all the printer self-tests look good. It may be that your printer is dying (especially if those prints really do look solarized), but this is how you find out.

Second, I would make sure you are using the correct printer driver for your Epson Stylus Photo R320, and the correct printer profile - as selected in Photoshop CS2 when printing - and that all printer settings match for the paper (even the level of gloss) you are using.

Third, I would double-check your Epson instruction manual and the recommendations for the manufacturer of the paper you are using to make sure you have all settings in the printer dialog boxes set correctly for Color Handling, Printer Profile, and Rendering Intent, and anything else necessary for your printer/paper combination. No "seat of the pants" here; these settings should be rather exact and unarguable.

Fourth, are you using genuine Epson inks? Note that I did not say Epson-compatible, I said Epson.

I have a Canon i9900. printer. Recently all my black-and-white prints started coming out noticeably sepia. My color prints also started looking a little "muddy."

I checked and cleaned the printer, calibrated my monitor, all that to no avail. It was driving me crazy. Then I remembered I had decided to save a few dollars and buy a couple of off-brand ink cartridges. I also tried refilling one cartridge with one of those "universal" ink refill kits. You guessed it. The sepia-toned B&W prints were all due to the off-brand inks. I changed everything back to Canon inks and the problem went away.

You said, "My present system is not calibrated or profiled and that is not something I really want to undertake due to all of the nightmare stories I have heard about Profiles going berzerk." You are going to have to forget the nightmare stories; profiles do not go berserk on their own. In this digital age you do not have much choice but to roll up your sleeves and get into the technical end of this sort of thing, whether you print an occasional print or not.

Assuming you installed the software correctly, your hardware should not be the problem. It is entirely possible you missed some step in the software setup somewhere. But unless you take some careful steps - and notes as you go - you may find the solution more elusive.

Good luck.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-16-2009, 06:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoDave1 View Post
I have unfortunately had to make a lot of changes to my computer setup over the last six months and now I have run up against a problem and do not know which way to turn. I had my computer and my monitor die within a week of each other which required me to replace both. I have never done a lot of my own printing from PhotoShop due to the complexities involved in getting all of the pieces to play nice with each other but prior to my new computer and monitor acquisitions when I wanted to print something the results were acceptable and now they are not and I have no idea which way to turn first.

I have an HP Workstation with a 3.0 Ghz Pentium D processor and loads of RAM. The computer is loaded with Windows XP Pro. My monitor is an HP w2207h 22" LCD monitor. My printer is a six color Epson Stylus Photo R320. I am using Adobe PhotoShop CS2 and I work 99% of the time with .jpg images.

I have just finished designing a Comp Card for myself and it looks good on my monitor but when I printed the Comp Card the images look horrible. I really don't know how to describe how they look other than to say they look 'solarized' and the faces of the models I used in the Comp Card look pasty with sunken eyes and almost no detail at all.

I have done nothing with the Adobe Gamma although it is in the Startup folder on my hard drive. My present system is not calibrated or profiled and that is not something I really want to undertake due to all of the nightmare stories I have heard about Profiles going berzerk. Also, I do not make any money from prints I do myself at home, I just like to be able to print an 8 x 10 every once in while to give to someone or to put in my book.

Years ago when I bought my first photo printer I used to make 'seat of the pants' calibrations ie: if I print an image and it comes out light and a little over saturated I adjust all images I print to be a bit darker and slightly less saturated and this has always served me well but in this instance with so much wrong I don't know where to start to fix the problem.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Well my good man, it may be time to use that Adobe Gamma, it will help you out a bit. Also, don't be afraid of those ICC Profiles, I have heard many horror stories about them as well, but a profile is kind of like a car, you can use it as an effective means of transportation to get you from point a to point b if you know how to drive well, but if you don't know how to drive, it can be a nightmare. One thing to remember is that the sRGB profile is designed and used for display purposes like on the internet, and I've had excellent results using both the Apple, Adobe RGB's and also the SWOP 2.0 CYMK profiles if you so dare to use a CYMK profile (at one point I used CYMK colors exclusively for work.) Good luck and I hope this helped.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-16-2009, 10:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Dave, Also be sure the media that has been selected is correct. You can change that by going to the printer properties. You should see different types of media selections, such as plain paper, photo quality ink jet, premium glossy paper, premium quality glossy film, etc. There may be different types indicated on yours, depending on your printer.

I believe the default for most printers is "plain paper", and even if you had set it preveiously, your new computer might have caused the printer to revert to the default setting.. (I am actually guessing about that, but it did happen to me that way).

An example would be:
If you are trying to get photo quality and your printer properties are set to plain paper, the print could look solarized. I often use the "premium quality glossy film" setting , even for paper prints.

Unfortunately, there are other settings that might be the problem, and it is not really possible to know, without seeing all the settings available for your printer.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-16-2009, 06:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Dave, lots of good advice here. I have an Epson R1800 and I love the print quality. But I have learned over time that if I don't print photos for a while (Epson recommends using the print cartridges within 6 months of purchase), the ink will dry somewhere in the printer and when that happens the photos come out looking like you describe. I have been ready to buy a new printer several times. I would ran the printer test and would see gaps in the lines and then run the head clening routine. I learned the hard way that the head cleaning eats ink fast.

Here is what I have learned:

1. Run the nozzle check and hold the test pattern under a strong light so every detail is visible.
2. If there are ANY gaps in the lines or they aren't perfect...run the head cleaning routine.
3. Now run the nozzle check again and repeat 2.
4. Do this until your pattern is perfect.

In the worst case...I have replaced have the ink cartridges. When I have done this the print quality came back.

The suggestion that your system needs to be calibrated is if you at least get recognizable prints that need to be improved. I have seen what you are experiencing and it is your printer.

I always use Epson inks and papers. I am sure that the wrong ink or paper will produce poor quality prints (I have tried to use HP paper and the ink would not even dry.)

You should probably spend some money ad replace the ink cartridges and start fresh.

Good luck!
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-17-2009, 04:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks to everyone who responded to my post with their hint, tips, and suggestions about the problems I am having in printing photos and getting the colors right.

More and more I am coming to believe that my problem is in the printer. The printer is five years old and that is a lifetime for any electronic component. I don’t do a lot of color photo printing and the cartridges I am sure have been in the printer for a while and I know that a few of them are low. I also have not run the self-test routing or a nozzle check in a while so that very well could be a part of my problem.

I am using the right print drivers, and also the correct ink (genuine Epson ink). I also use the right photo paper for my photographic prints. I use the Epson Glossy Premium Photographic paper and I set the printer sub-routine for this paper whenever I print photos.

I am going to perform a self-test and a nozzle check routine tonight and see how it goes. I am also probably going to have to get a new set of color cartridges for the printer. One thing I am curious about is where do I locate the Profile Management number for my printer? Is this in my printer documentation or do I have to look on the Epson web site or is this information buried somewhere in PhotoShop? I seem to remember there is a place in PhotoShop for me to enter this information but I am not sure where to find the information to begin with.

Thanks again for the help and I will keep everyone advised as to what I find out. Of course, I might just learn that I need to get a new printer but that’s life in the world of photography.

Party on Dudes!
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-17-2009, 07:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'll bet you won't have to buy a new printer. I have my fingers crossed.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-18-2009, 07:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Well Guys,

It is looking like the printer is my problem. The Nozzle Check was pretty bad and after running a few head cleanings I was able to get all the Nozzles firing as they should be and then I ran an Alignment Check and that was a little off so I fixed that.

Next I went into PhotoShop and opened the CompCard I have been trying to print and found out with all of the Head Cleanings and Nozzle Checks I was completely out in three cartridges so everything is on hold until tonight when I can get out and pick up some new cartridges. I am going to get a complete set of six cartridges just to keep me from having to run out again.

I was looking around in the control app of my printer and there are a lot of tweaks and a couple in particular that might have a direct bearing on my problem. One is a Color Mode and my choices are Vivid and Standard. The setting is now on Vivid and the printer documentation says to always print photos on Standard. Something about enriching the Blue and Green tones in printouts if I set to Vivid. I am not sure how Greens and Blues would affect my problem but once I get new inks I am going to try it on Standard. If someone can enlighten me on this I would appreciate it.

I also found a complete set of controls to fine tune things like Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow and it looks like these controls are global controls that affect the image once it actually gets to the printer so if I have to I will play with the Saturation control.

I also found a print I had done for a wedding last year on my printer when things were working right and it looks great on my monitor when I looked at it last night which only serves to indicate even more to me that it is indeed a printer problem. The problem is I have no idea how things with my printer got so messed up. I normally do not do a lot of experimenting with settings. I prefer when possible to use defaults and I don't go experimenting unless I have to. Possibly when my computer died something got messed up in my printer settings when I had to re-install the drivers but hopefully I am on the right track. We shall see.
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Re: Color Problem In Printing
Old 02-18-2009, 09:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, I'm not sure if you are doing this or not, and no offense if you already are. Not all printers have their own profile, plus it does change with the paper you are using, mainly the type, not really the brand, but as far as surface, ie. normal printer paper soaks up more ink, and the fibers disperse the ink so you won't get as sharp as an image, and then on the other extreme, a glossy surface, it dosn't absorb much ink at all into the paper base. But since you are using a high grade glossy surface paper, that's not much of an issue, but at least noteworthy. It's not your ink, Epson is known for producing high quality ink and an excellent printer. Try doing a "Save As" and when you do that, make sure that the box is checked for embedding the profile that you are using within Photoshop. That way, when the file is sent to the printer, it reads the profile as well and asists the printer in interpreting the colors. If this still proves to be pretty inaccurate, just make sure your system is calibrated - I believe we covered that once before though. Oh, one thing that usually isn't brought up much, but make sure that your monitor has been warmed up, for at least 30 minutes before modifying the colors. Many of us have the power settings to shut the monitor off after a length of time to save on the power bill, but makes a difference when modifing the colors.
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