Printing… Again

For quit a while, I’ve been struggling with my trusty ol’ Epson R1800. Struggling to the point where I’d pretty much decided to kick it to the curb, and either outsource my printing or replace the printer. Replacing the printer has been a tough thing to think about — I’ve got too much indecision between the R1900 and the R2880, and I didn’t want to buy into another set of printing problems if these printers manifested the same printing challenges I’d been having with my R1800. And outsourcing the printing… well, I’m a bit of a control freak with my hardcopy, so that was also tough.

In a nutshell, my printing was horrible. Images were waaaay too dark as compared against my color calibrated screen. This was making for two elements of workflow — one to get the image the way I wanted it on screen, and then monkeying with that copy in order to print it appropriately. Or, I could work the image on my Mac, bring up a virtual Windows XP session, and print from there. Eitehr way, it was twice the workflow, and a bunch of trial and error for each image, leading to wasted ink and media, and a general disinterest in printing my work. What good are my images if I’m not printing them?!?!?

As Vincent Versace taught us at DLWS, we work in service of the print. However, my passion lies in the creation of image, and the tuning of it to get it the way it looked in my mind’s eye, not with monkeying around with print settings to get the print even remotely close to my on-screen image. Printing should just work (or be pretty dang close to just working — I’ll take a endure a little tuning). For me, printing had become a distraction, and was taking me away from the joy of working with my images.

I’d researched this print issue before, and had seen loads of other folks running OS X Leopard having the same problems with their printers, with no real solutions in hand. Then I happened upon a website that pointed to this being a common problem with Macs that had been upgraded to Leopard, rather than having fresh installs. That fit me exactly. I went through the steps on the site — many, many steps — and was finally ready to print. A couple of days of life got in the way, but today, I ran some test prints…

And it was glorious.

Colors looked like they did on the screen. Shadows were good. Bright areas were actually bright again. And now I’m churning out print after print on both matte and glossy media, and once again discovering the joy that’s there when you can hold your image in your hands. There’s a tangible quality to a print that transcends the image itself, and makes it even more real.

Welcome back to the fold lil’ ol’ R1800 — I’ve missed ya.