I'm back as Jack Nicholson so aptly put it in The Shining. If only I had more drive I might do a blog post daily or even monthly but I seem to find every excuse to procrastinate. Well it's time to get back to it so this post is going to focus on printing your photography.
When I first got serious about photography I decided that I wanted control of every aspect of the process from image in my mind to picture on the wall. The only way to achieve this is to spend a lot of money which you are almost assured to never recover. You can attempt to do it on the cheap but the results will speak for themselves and believe me, the better your photos get the better you want the printing to be. I started the way many people do by buying a $350.00 all in one Epson printer capable of 8.5"X11" prints as well as scanning which is not a bad beginner unit and it didn't hurt that I could write it off through my business. The Canon 7D was also a write off and the imac so it all started out pretty good. Epson printers are actually quite good but what they never tell you is printers are quite cheap compared to ink especially when you upgrade to an actual photo printer. As a general rule, you also need to print something every week. Not once a month but every week as inkjet printers do not take well to sitting still. Another thing about printing is size. The bigger the print the more impact it makes so of course the next step is to go to a wide body printer. These are units that are 13" and larger and as with most things that means more money, a lot more money. Ink is more expensive and there is usually more of it, the print media also goes up exponentially in price as it gets bigger.
My second printer was an Epson R3000 which was an excellent printer that used 9 inks and that meant the $1000.00 printer now required $375.00 in ink every few months. Some inks lasted longer than others but you still needed to print something every week which seemed like a huge waste to me but like I said previously, photography isn't a cheap hobby if you want control. The R3000 wasn't a Pro Photo printer but a high end consumer printer and there is definitely a difference which I never found out until a year after I bought it. Consumer printers do most everything pro printers do and use high end inks but they are built to a price point so there are places where corners have been cut. I liked to use edge to edge printing because having a border seemed to me to be a huge waste of photo media real-estate but it turns out every time you print edge to edge a small amount of ink is wasted off the edges of the print. This isn't an issue on a pro printer because they use a cleanable waste trough but consumer printers have foam strips to save money which require the unit be sent off to a repair center so when I found that out I decided borders weren't all that bad.
After about three years of printing the R3000 started leaving black streaks of ink on prints which after wasting several hundred bucks on print media and ink I came to find out was an issue inside the print head and the only way to fix it would be to replace the whole print head which is $800.00 plus labour and shipping. You also must supply an entire set of new inks so the repair centre can test and calibrate the unit. That meant it was time to purchase a new printer, oh yay.
I began looking for a replacement with one very specific stipulation, it couldn't use the same print head design as the R3000 because to me any unit using a motor drive ink channel switcher is eventually going to fail. It turns out that all the higher end Epson printers utilize this design and Epson believes that a print head replacement is just normal wear and tear, remember I said previously that printing your work is not cheap. I have ended up buying a 1430 which is the least expensive wide body printer that Epson makes and I can already hear you saying why would he buy another Epson? This is because I still believe Epson builds the best photo printers and eventually I will probably buy a pro model but for the time being this unit is doing the job.
I will leave you with a photo I took of the Lytton fire a couple years back which I have rendered in HDR and then oil painted in Photoshop.