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Printing >

Problems & Solutions

Here are some solutions to common printing problems.

Also go to Best Practices.

Bad News

A print can't reproduce the glow of your monitor.

The white cloud in a photograph on your monitor is transmitted light.

The same white cloud on a print is light reflecting off white plastic or paper.

White plastic or paper will never look as good as the glow from a monitor.

Your prints won't look as good as they look on your monitor.

Printer Doesn't Work

1) Check to see if the power cord is connected.

2) Reset any circuit breakers on power strips and surge protectors.

3) Turn printer on and off to reset.

4) Check if the cable is connected, and the doors and trays are in their proper positions.

5) Check to make sure the printer is properly recognizing the type and size of the paper that you're using.

6) Your printer may have a button that toggles between online and offline status.

If so, check to make the printer is online.

Is It the Printer or the Computer?

Is the problem caused by the printer or your combination of computer, software, and cable?

Print a test print from the printer's control panel.

Or, print a photograph from:

• A memory card plugged into the printer.

• Your camera directly to the printer with a cable.

If the printer makes the print successfully, the problem is with your computer, software, or cable.

If the print is poor, replace the printer driver.

Corrupt Printer Driver

A corrupt printer driver can cause many problems.

Download and install the latest driver from the printer manufacturer's website.


The exposure and color of your prints may be disappointing if your monitor isn't calibrated.

Editing Program Is Set Up for Printing

You must set up your editing program for printing.

Go to:

Set Up Photoshop Elements for Printing.

Lightroom > Print Module > 1 - Set Up.

Prints Are Too Dark


Is the white on your monitor different from the white on the print?

If so, turn down the brightness of your monitor to better match the monitor white with the paper white.

Recalibrate your monitor after adjusting its brightness.


Is the room light too bright?

Bright room light may be affecting how a photograph appears on your monitor.

Edit to Brighten the Print

Photoshop Elements

If you're using Photoshop Elements, do the following to lighten a photograph before printing.

1) Make a composite layer.

A composite layer contains all of the layers of your photograph.

If you haven't already, go to Composite Layer.

Do the following.

a) Deselect the Eye icons on the layers you don't want to merge.

b) Select the top layer (highlighted).

c) Select > All.

d) Edit > Copy Merged.

e) Edit > Paste.

3) Make sure the composite layer is at the top position in the layers palette.

4) Change the blending mode for the composite layer from Normal to Screen.

The blending mode box is at the top of the layers palette.

5) Adjust the opacity of the composite layer to change the brightness.

Opacity is located at the top of the layers palette.

6) Deselect and select the eye icon on the composite layer to compare the brightening with the original brightness.

7) Remember the opacity value for use with other photographs.

8) Print.


1) Make a virtual copy of the edited version of your photograph.

2) Use soft proofing, and tweak the virtual copy.

3) Print.

Color Problems

Color Caste

A clogged nozzle may shift the color balance.

Use the check nozzle function, and follow manufacturer's instructions for using the cleaning function.

Strange Color

Make sure your editing program is set up for printing.

Photoshop Elements or Lightroom are managing the color for your printing.

If your printer is also managing the color, your prints will be too magenta or worse.

Make sure the printer driver is not performing color management.

Less Common Color Problems

The three problems below are created by certain combinations of:

• Ink.

• Paper.

• Angle and color of a light source.

The problems have become less common with newer inks. 


As you tilt a glossy print at different angles, portions of the surface may appear to change color.

Gloss Differential

Areas of a glossy print may appear to be shinier than other areas.


A glossy or matte print may appear to change color depending on the light source.

This is especially evident on a black-and-white print.


Banding is an abrupt transition of color where there should be a smooth transition.

Banding Cause #1

Banding may be caused by air bubbles in a nozzle.

Running the cleaning cycle over-and-over may create more nozzle-blocking air bubbles.

Instead, don't do anything for a couple of hours, allowing the air bubbles to migrate out of the nozzle.

Note that when an air bubble enters a drop generator, and the generator is operated without ink, it can be irreparably damaged.

Banding Cause #2

Banding may be caused by a clogged nozzle.

Use the check nozzle function, and follow manufacturer's instructions for using the cleaning function.

Recalcitrant clogs may be dislodged by using cleaning solutions. and both sell a kits, and Lyson sells cleaning cartridges, for example.

Cleaning solutions and their application methods may not be recommended by your printer manufacturer.

Banding Cause #3

If you're using the relative colorimetric rendering intent, try the perceptual rendering intent instead.

The relative colorimetric rendering intent takes out-of-gamut colors, colors that can't be reproduced, and converts them to the last in-gamut color.

So, you may have a range of out-of-gamut colors that are being converted to a single color.

Blurry Prints

If the paper must be printed on one side only, check to make sure the paper is loaded properly.

Gaps & Faint Areas

A clogged nozzle may create gaps and faint areas.

Use the check nozzle function, and follow manufacturer's instructions for using the cleaning function.

Repeating White Lines

A clogged nozzle may create repeating white lines.

Use the check nozzle function, and follow manufacturer's instructions for using the cleaning function.

Repeating white lines may also be caused by the print head being out of alignment.

To align, follow the manufacturer's instructions for head alignment.

Spots, Marks, Streaks

1) Dried ink, inside the printer, may be flaking off onto the paper as it travels through the printer.

2) Hair or lint may be lodged on the nozzles.

3) The nozzles rest on a foam cleaning pad.

If this parking pad becomes dirty, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

4) The face (bottom) of the print head may need cleaning.

To clean, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

 B&W Problems

Poor Quality

The best B&W prints are made using:

1) Ink sets with seven or eight inks

2) B&W ink sets

3) Printer profiles

Consider using Raster Image Processing (RIP) software.

RIPs take over the duties of the manufacturer's printer driver and more.

Typically, many profiles are available.

Image Print

InkJet Control/OpenPrintMaker

Quad Tone Rip

QTRgui User interface for Quad Tone RIP

Prints Change Color

This is due to metamerism, a phenomenon most visible when viewing black-and-white prints.

A black-and-white print may have color caste x when viewed under one type to light source, and color caste y when viewed with different illumination.

Black-and-white prints often look slightly magenta under tungsten light, and greenish when viewed with daylight.

Cartridge Problems

If a new cartridge doesn't work:

1) The ink outlet hole of the cartridge may be dry.

Wrap the cartridge in paper towels.

Point the ink outlet hole down, and snap downward a couple of times.

2) The vent may be blocked by a label.

If air can't get into the cartridge, the ink can't get out.

Use a pin to open the vent.

Curly Prints

Large prints are often curly.

That's because the paper came from a roll, or the print was shipped in a mailing tube.

Matting curly prints will flatten them.

However, the curl is bothersome when if they're stored in a box.

$$$ Solution

Get a Bienfang De-Roller.

Cheaper Solution

You can make your own de-roller easily.

1) Attach a piece of sturdy paper larger than the print to a mailing tube.

2) Place the print on the paper, and roll it up against the curl.

When you unroll the print, there'll still be some curl.

3) To remove this last smidgen of curl, repeat the process after rotating the print 180 degrees.

If needed, you can leave the print rolled up for a few minutes by sliding on several rubber bands.

Get More Help

Here are more resources to help you with printing problems.

Printer Self Diagnosis

Your printer software may have a self-diagnosis tool.


Check, of course, the printer manual and the manufacturer's website.


Ask a question, and search threads, on a forum, such as:

DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint Yahoo forum

Luminous-Landscape Several forums about printing

Google & Forums

You can also use Google to ask your question on many photography forums with a single click.

Enter the make and model of your printer, description of your printing problem, and the word forum.