A bad week

A bad week… I create transparencies for a number of small A3+ prints – including the Wind Turbines I shot on Newport docs, and this is the first image I expose. I begin printing with a test print of the mid-tone, but the print is far too pale, far too overexposed with barely any ink coming through the screen. Frustrations are compounded by a far alarm, and it is only after re-exposing the screen that the real issue comes to light – horizontal banding, almost like a stepped gradient all the way up the subtle ghostly image. I talk to Dave, convinced I have completely lost any technique I had at pulling a print. My technique is not at fault however, my printer is – with strange banding marks, invisible unless the transparency is placed on the lightbox all the way up not only the turbine image, but also the other 3 transparencies I was considering printing this week.

In the evening – and for several Wednesdays to follow are spent trying to overcome this sudden issue with my formerly trusted, Canon Pixma. No combination of cleaning, deep clean, profile adjustments and inks (cheap inkjet clones are replaced with painfully expensive Canon originals to no avail) seems to rectify the problem and I resort to getting transfers created by the UWE digital team. I am belligerently insistent on cracking this issue and lose track of wasted films and inks as I try in vain to figure out the combination of variables that is creating this strange banding. It’s frustrating because I prefer the quality of halftone dot created by the inkjet. It has a softness that comes through on the screen, proving a halftone dot that is somehow slightly more delicate than the UWE system, or laser folex. Additionally, I am keen to find a transparency process that I can manage myself – without needing to use a print bureau when I finish my MA, it feels like an important part of the puzzle of being able to work independently going forward.

It is several weeks before I finally figure out the issue – on a whim I slightly reduce the dpi of the bitmap to 280dpi, and for some unknown reason this completely removes the banding in the image – almost as if the printer couldn’t keep up with the demands being placed on the print head or something – very strange… Either way a 20dpi drop in resolution is completely undetectable when working for screen (or even for litho) so I am delighted to be able to finally use my home kit again to produce transparencies.