More Folio Activity and Musings on Prints
My box of Hahnemuhle Ultra Smooth Photo Rag showed up a couple of weeks ago and I made a couple of test prints from the Occupy Seattle folio. I was not overly impressed. The dmax of the blacks was no where near where I was expecting it. I was rather surprised, given how much I had liked the look of the prints on the regular Photo Rag. Then I realized that it was my friend Robbyn who had printed the sample on Photo Rag, not me (she had printed about 3 of the dozen+ or so samples that I had). I began to suspect a printer profile issue. As these things can take a while to sort out, I decided to spring for a box of my other current fave paper, which I know that I have printed on, Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk. That box came in a couple of days ago and I ran off a couple of test prints from the folio. Wow, they looked great! Seeing this I went ahead and started printing the whole thing…
…and the aggravation of home fine art inkjet printing came home to roost again. This time I discovered that some of the prints would, at the very tail end of the paper, twist a little on their way out of the printer, and this would cause the bottom bit of text to smear a little. All the images were fine, because they finished above the point where the paper left the security of the rear rollers. It was only some papers, possibly ones that were a little more curled, when the print was being pulled by the front rollers only and printing the image key and page number in the last inch or so of the paper.
For a while I thought that maybe I could fix it by simply guiding the paper in a straight path. I tried using a clothespin clamped on to the manual feed shelf, as shown in the photo here. It worked for a little while, but then the problem just exhibited itself in a different way as the paper simply slipped under the wheels and got printed on multiple times. Googling a bit, I discovered that this is a known issue with this printer and certain papers (or under certain conditions–curled?) fed through the manual feed path. I’d never seen it before because I was used to feeding much larger sheets of paper (A3+) through that path, or using the tray feed for slimmer papers. The possible solutions I’ve seen online do not look good. This is the kind of thing that leads to a love/hate relationship with home inkjet printing. When it works, it’s glorious, and when it doesn’t, it’s frustration in spades. I’m mulling over a couple of more things to try of my own design–wish me luck.
Before I got frustrated, I was positively glowing looking at the prints. It’s always rewarding to see one of your images on a new paper. The photography world is collectively pondering if the end of the print as a destination is near, and we are all going to be looking at prints on our iPads or Kindles or what not. Those certainly are attractive devices for browsing photography. And I would not have to deal with the expense and hassles of an inkjet printer. But I have to say that for this photographer at least, the print still reigns supreme. The richness of the blacks, the subtle gradations in tonality, the resolution…my god, the detail! Nothing quite like it. And to think that with proper care it might last 200 years or more–archival as well.