Every Blessed Time – An Epson Tale

Every Blessed Time – An Epson Tale

As a long-time user of Epson inkjet printers I have been somewhat cynical about my relationship with them.

I started out with a biggie – a 3800 model that would print A2 sizes. It was a marvellous machine for some time but my own neglect of it eventually spelled doom. I failed to cycle and exercise it enough and eventually one of the channels in the inkjet head blocked irretrievably. I could do nothing with it and gave it away to someone who only wanted to print monochromes with it. They may still have it, and good luck to them.

Chastened by my experience, I bought another – a smaller model that only goes to A3+ size. I’ve exercised it weekly since purchase and have saved it from complete blockage. But there are times when the jets do clog and there are procedures needed to clean them.

However, when all is going well, the results from it are all that I could ever want – and all that the people who receive my prints could ever want as well. The secrets seem to be:

a. Cycle the printer weekly, if not more. A 6 x 4 print of a shirley is generally all you need to keep the thing flowing.

b. Look at the ink cartridge dates. Get fresh ink and use it in a timely fashion. Don’t hoard old ink, and don’t risk using it if it is out of date. Bin it and get fresh.

c. Yes, it really does cost that much for ink. You’re a big person now and you have to pay for your pleasures. Stop weeping – it’s undignified.

d. Use good paper. Ilford, Hahnemühle, Epson…whatever. Buy it from a normal dealer in proper packages and not some eBay garage supplier.

Use the right paper for the right ink. Yes, I have tried it the other way and no, it doesn’t succeed.

e. Either practise the multicoloured magical arts of colour management ( be prepared to lose your mind ) or let the printer and the computer program decide between themselves what they will do. In most cases, if you give them fresh ink and proprietary paper, they will do a superb job.

I use a very dear box of A3+ archival matte to do my best printing and rarely have to throw a print away – Epson can be just that good.

f. Friends do not let friends drive drunk, nor do they allow them to edit photographs or make prints  after a long day in the studio. Eyeballs change as they grow bloodshot and the closing of the eyelids is a signal to stop for the day. Heed it.

One wonderful thing about the digital/ink revolution. When you are done for the evening you do not have to wash the prints, empty the tanks, and mop the floor. You can just power down and go to bed.

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