Printing Pictures

Much of what I’ve been dealing with lately in my life simply isn’t bloggable because it‘s too boring. Still, a glimpse of a small part of it might explain my relative lack of postings here.

After three years of living in our new home I finally unpacked my expensive Epson 2000P, deciding it was criminal to spend $1000 for a printer and not use it, especially when others are nagging you about what I waste that is. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ink nozzles weren’t clogged after three years and that I could get it to print after merely running the Epson Printer Utility a couple of times. Unfortunately, that’s about the only thing that did go well.

About the time I finally got things sorted out, I ran out of ink and discovered that I couldn’t buy it locally. I had to either order it from Amazon or Epson. I decided that Amazon would be quicker and cheaper since I’d already paid for shipping for the year. What I didn’t realize that Amazon didn’t have both cartridges in stock and that they ended up coming from two different companies nearly a week apart.

Right now I find myself in the confusing world of color printing which began with the discovery that Photoshop CS2 offers a large number of choices when it comes to printing pictures, each of which can dramatically alter the final print. Luckily, or perhaps not so luckily, I did manage to produce several prints that looked better than anything I’ve ever gotten back from a photo processor, and I’ve generally chosen only quality processors. Unfortunately, I could seldom get the same quality the next time I printed, probably because I didn’t make the same choices each time.

As long-time readers have certainly surmised I can become obsessive when trying to accomplish something, particularly when it comes to photography. I would like to believe that this is the result of being a yearbook advisor for years and struggling with various printers to produce good-looking yearbooks. Realistically, I have to admit to being a perfectionist, an obsessive perfectionist at that.

To make a long story a little shorter, I had to discover how to make the appropriate choices in Photoshop, which led to me re-reading several chapters in my Photoshop book, and, finally, to this web page, which seemed to offer the clearest steps to making sure that what you saw on the screen was almost what you ended up with in your photograph.

The advice offered there, in turn, led to me buy a Spyder2Pro to calibrate my monitor. I quickly discovered that my favored screen settings for browsing the web were rather different from the settings needed to produce accurate prints. Furthermore, I discovered that the LCD monitor I’d chosen at Fry’s because of it’s bright, lively screen display was less than ideal for accurate prints.

I found it nearly impossible to balance the Red-Green-Blue channels the way the Spyder2Pro wanted me to. I finally had to accept the monitor’s default settings and try to compensate for those through the software. Despite that, I’ll have to admit that I was able to produce prints that were much closer to what I saw on the screen.

Still, my inability to balance the monitor as accurately as I wanted to led me to start looking at monitors again, and almost inevitably back to Apple’s monitors, which I’ve long admired but been unwilling to pay for. I finally decided to compromise by foregoing the 30” Cinema Display I’ve longed for and buy Apple’s 23” Cinema Display and use my old display as an extended desktop when needed.

Of course, it would be much cheaper just to send all my prints out to a custom print lab as suggested in this article. but doing that just wouldn’t fulfill the INTP in me, now would it? Still, when asked for advice, that’s what I told my step daughter she should do since she’s not retired and has a real life.

2 thoughts on “Printing Pictures

  1. I sympathise Loren. I’ve been engaged in a similar struggle myself since changing from my excellent old Sony CRT monitor to a Viewsonic LCD. Plus forgetting most of what I learned about the process a year ago when I last did some printing with my Epson 1290. I found the Spyder2 fairly useful however.

What do you think?