Winchell Mountain road, at Rt 199. Quite often if I find an interesting place in unusual light and weather conditions, it will turn out that there's more than one picture to be found there. Also, just hanging around for a while to see what changes can lead to worthwhile results.
Back on the 13th I took advantage of in and out rainy weather—one of my favorite shooting conditions—to tour around western Connecticut and nearby New York state to look for pictures. Early in the day I stopped where the Appalachian trail crosses the county road near the Kent School campus. The woods here are mostly spruce and pine with few broadleaf species. This makes the forest especially dark, so that even in this summer of rampant weed production the forest floor has minimal cover, just some dark-loving ferns, with lots of bare ground showing.
Across the road, the foothills of the Berkshires peek through the light rain. The hayfield, which is usually well maintained, looks as though it has been infested with so many invasives they may have to use a brush hog to mow it.
From printer torture, solved at least for the moment, we go into software torture. In order to get on with several planned book projects and complete overhauling of our web sites, yesterday I signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud. But first I had to upgrade the iMac to the latest version of the system software. This in turn obsoleted my monitor calibration tool. X-Rite had emailed me the latest version of their software, but it doesn't support my three-year old puck. So why send the latest software to a customer whose hardware won't be supported by it?
So now CC programs are downloading to the computer, and I'm way behind getting blog post up.
After getting the printer up and running on Friday and outputting a couple perfect looking prints on a matte cotton paper, I switched to a 'satin' (requires photo black ink) paper to print a couple recent pictures. But something was wrong with the prints. I realized that the #1 "ink" in the 12-cartridge HP set, the Gloss Enhancer, wasn't working. The image area showed bronzing of dark values, partial reversals of middle values, an actual bit of relief visible from different thicknesses of ink—all the stuff the GE fixes.
At first I thought it was a software problem since the printer was not complaining about the E-G printhead (there are six double heads in the carriage) and it had worked fine for matte prints which don't use GE. Even with help from a friendly online forum I couldn't find the problem until finally the printer did complain about the E-G head. It demanded the head be reseated. When the machine decides a head is no good, it tells you to replace, not reseat it. So then I went into a feedback loop, half a dozen cycles of following the procedure to remove and replace the head, followed by the printer asking why I hadn't completed the head replacement procedure, which of course it hadn't asked for. Finally it accepted the reseated head and launched on a print system prep procedure, followed by printing an auto alignment check. Then, I ran a calibration and profile for the satin paper loaded in the printer, but there were still problems.
I tried a print with a pair of actual pictures, and had the same problems. There were smears of gray ink where there should have only been empty border, and near the leading edge of the printed area, off and on sets of half a dozen thin stripes. For some reason, this reminded me a little of a problem I'd had with the original E-G head. I was getting a dark leading edge on prints, gloss media only. It turned out that the gray ink was crossing and contaminating the gloss enhancer and a brand new head was required. I figured—hoped, actually—that this E-G head was bad, too, even though the printer's diagnostics were accepting it.
So I ordered a new printhead yesterday and it arrived this afternoon. To my great relief, there are no lines, streaks, or smears on the alignment check, the calibration test, or the profiling output. So next, I output the pair of prints that had looked all wrong when I printed them on satin paper back on Saturday.
Fifty years ago, when I was fourteen, my mother, who was a commercial artist, complained that my photographs looked like backgrounds without a subject. My response was that the background is my subject. I haven't changed.
This part of the city, about half a mile from The Green (New England style central town square), is dominated by a relatively modern shopping center with a Home Depot, a Sports Authority, and a PetSmart where I stock up on supplies for our cats every couple of months. The original businesses that used to occupy the nearby commercial buildings are mostly gone, though a commercial printing supply company still operates out of substantial complex of buildings.
Several months ago my wonderful HP Z3200 printer began throwing little black specks all over the prints. It turned out that the drive belt for the printhead carriage was failing. Disintegrating. Not an uncommon problem, but after only three years of what has been, for a production-level machine, very light use, the belt must have been from a defective or substandard batch.
The belt is worth $38. The service call by HP to do the repair would be $1349. To reach the belt, the machine has to be completely disassembled. Right down to the chassis. My friend John has experience with these big printers, and he offered to work on the machine with me while visiting relatives nearby. So yesterday—all day yesterday—we tore down the machine, replaced the belt, and managed, with some false starts, to put it all back together again.
This is what a very blown drive belt looks like.
We were using an online video of the repair process, along with a downloaded service manual for a previous model of the printer. John left when we had it assembled, and I couldn't find documentation for a post-maintenance calibration test that the manual called for, so decided simply to power up the printer. When it boots, it announces that it is doing print system prep, which generally takes two or three minutes. When it had been sitting turned off for nearly two weeks because of the power failure after hurricane Sandy, the print system prep took more like twenty minutes, but worked. This time, after being shut off for three months and then completely disassembled, the print system prep went on endlessly, something like an hour and a half. But it looks as though the software in this model is capable of doing everything on autopilot. Finally, it ordered me to load paper for a head alignment check, which went just fine.
So the next step was to get out rolls of my three favorite papers and run calibration and ICC profiling procedures (the printer has it's own spectrometer and profiling system built in) on each.
To my great relief, everything seems to be working perfectly. One problem is that the main system cooling fan—or the power supply, they're pretty much one complex contiguous unit—is making sounds that mean it's going to fail at some point. But, complex as it is, the job of replacing that unit is much simpler than doing the belt. You only have to tear down the entire left side of the machine, and I think I know enough now to be able to do that on my own.
So, next step was to call up the file for a print someone ordered earlier in the week.
Oh, that bit of blue tape? That's holding a T15 torx screw that, well, should be somewhere in the right side pieces of the printer. I've got to use the service manual to try to figure out where it should have gone.
A little bit of rain or morning mist does wonders for the colors and textures of landscape photographs, but it's just as enhancing to the rich but subtle colors to be found in the urban landscape as well.