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A lesson in printing

Yesterday, I was fulfilling some recent print orders and learned some lessons with home printing I thought I'd share.

The morning started off productive. I had a handful of images I previously made test prints of ready to go, annnnnd then I made my first print of the day. A magenta cast washed over the image.

I double checked all my settings. I was using the correct ICC profile for the paper, my printer presets I previously made were intact, the color mode of the image was correct, and I was using the right paper. I tried again and got the same outcome. I tried printing the same image from Lightroom and Photoshop. Same results again. Hmm...I googled a few different things but the articles I read only suggested fixing things I had previously checked. The only new thing I had done differently was create some soft proof settings in Photoshop, but that wouldn't be the cause. So I had to pause and sit back and think about what had changed.

That's when I noticed Adobe CC had an update badge on it. Maybe it was the version of Photoshop and Lightroom I was using? So I started those updates. While they were running I recalled I had updated to OS X Catalina, last week, plus I read all the news about it breaking third party software. I figured my waiting to install it had been long enough, but I never checked to make sure my software was compatible. Uh oh.

Both Photoshop and Lightroom got their updates and I restarted my computer. I tried a small test print and M*****F***** IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!! Same cast on the image. I was starting to think I was losing my mind, as I checked and rechecked everything.

I checked my monitor calibration software. I checked my cables and tried restarting my printer. I tried printing three other images to see if it was the first image only. None of those activities resulted in a better outcome.

Back on Google, I found some forum posts from 3-5 years ago talking about OS X and Canon problems. One of the posters in a forum mentioned checking firmware and driver versions. Both things I hadn't thought to look at yet. My firmware was good. In fact, I was running a more current version than the official Canon website. Then I looked up the driver and there was an update for it from September of this year. I checked my driver and it was an older version. Not knowing what else to try at that point, I downloaded it and launched the installer. I had to pause for a moment because this could very well make things worse. I've had that experience with other software in my past. After reflecting on everything I had already tried and feeling like I was out of options, I clicked "install" and waited for it to finish.

After it was done, I verified the update was made and decided to reset the printer in system prefs. I pulled up the original image, checked all my Photoshop settings, pulled up the printer and double checked its settings, and hit print. I waited with anxious hope for the print to show me something as the printer worked. In the darkness of my office space I could see a change to the color, but had to wait for the paper to be released to verify it was fixed in better light. And Great Odin’s Raven it was!!!

An outdated driver and an updated OS was my problem.

So here's what I'm taking away from that.

  • While I waited to install Catalina, in the future, I'll verify my printer software and other critical software I rely on is updated.

  • I need to be completely methodical and take my time with my troubleshooting so I know what variables are impacting outcomes. I made a few updates in a row before testing. I could have very well corrected the issue and then subsequently made it worse. I feel lucky I didn’t make it worse.

  • I need to be more willing to run test prints at each step. I was trying to avoid using ink as I went. It wouldn't have solved my issues, but would have provided some feedback on my process.


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