Printer problems

Ah! The wonderful world of photo printers! Everything hums along smoothly…until you try a new paper. Suddenly you are spending half a day trying to resolve smearing and alignment problems. Wasted paper, wasted ink.

I am finally trying out the Epson Ultra Smooth Fine Art Paper. Expensive stuff…and it also requires me to switch out my photo black ink for the matt black ink. The problem arose over how to load the paper into the printer…an Epson 2880. I used the single sheet feeder the first time and the print came out beautifully.

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Then I noticed that the paper information said that I should have loaded the paper into the front manual feeder as it is a thick media. Or…I could damage my printer. Great! So I loaded the next sheet into the front manual feeder as indicated. Assuming I had now loaded the paper using the correct method I eagerly awaited my beautiful print.

Not! It exited the printer smeared across the paper like a soft watercolour wash. No! I had damaged my printer and I have a show in a month. Trying not to panic I grabbed the manual and proceeded to run the alignment and head cleaning functions. All seemed good so I printed a small image using the single sheet feeder to make sure regular prints were printing correctly. Then I tried again.

smeared print copy

The same lovely watercolour wash exited the printer. Oops! Reread the paper information. Ok, so apparently if you have a single sheet feeder you can use it to load the paper. Hmm! It’s very annoying when manufacturers put conflicting information on their products and in their printer manuals. Again I ran the cleaning and alignment functions. This time I loaded the paper using the single sheet feeder at the back of the printer. Hey, it worked the first time when I loaded the paper the wrong way! Now I pray and wait.

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Beautiful print…except for some light wheel banding along one side. Hmm! Well, at least I’m moving in the right direction. Run the cleaning functions again! Now print another small print. No banding visible. Looks promising but am I brave enough to try again with the large expensive sheet of paper?

Sure. What do I have to lose except for more paper and ink?

And so finally…after four hours, success!

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I’m not sure if there’s a lesson in all this. It seems to be par for the course with printers along with getting the colours and light and dark tones right. What looks great on the monitor doesn’t necessarily look the same printed. But there is much satisfaction in producing a really great final print. It’s the last step in the photo process.

As for all the wasted paper? Well, I think maybe a little mixed media work might be attempted somewhere in the future. Who knows…maybe a masterpiece will be the happy ending.

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