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I cannot print in black and white. Everything comes out gray instead.

Posted on 2014-01-02
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Last Modified: 2014-01-18
Have HP office jet 5610 all in one printer.  My black and white pictures are printing in gray instead.  I have changed both cartridges, but no change to the gray.  The first time I printed BW the pictures were fine.  Now they are not.
122113-BW-2-Kelly-and-Lindsay-Xm.jpg
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Question by:gtoney001
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by:SStory
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Are you expecting only black and only white (two colors. If so it will look like a rubber stamp. If not it will be grayscale of some sort.  Are you just saying there is no black at all and should be? This could be due to the colors in the image. Is it washed out such that there would be no black, but only dark grays?  Can you print black text?
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by:Eirman
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Your picture seems fine to me

You will find some suggestions here on resetting your printer
http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/forums/printer/39744
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by:gtoney001
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genius - yes I can print black text.  I have attached two files.  The one with all women print sharp clear B/W.  The second picture man & women only prints gray scale.  Please see if your printer demonstrates the dramatic difference.  Thanks for your suggestions.  Gtoney001
122113-Resized-Head-Shot-Kelly-a.jpg
IMG-20131211-135126.jpg
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by:gtoney001
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Sage - thank you for the link.  I did review the Q & As located there.  Unfortunately, I did not see my issue addressed.  I did send a question to the fixyourownprinter email box to see that their suggestions might be.  
I am attaching two files.  The one with the three women and infant prints a sharp BW photo; the one with the man and woman only prints shades of gray.  Maybe your printer will have differenct results.  Gtoney001
IMG-20131211-135126.jpg
122113-Resized-Head-Shot-Kelly-a.jpg
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by:SStory
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gtoney001,

First, you are addressing people by their rank instead of their username. I for example, appreciate the genius comment, but that is my rank. My username is sstory.

Thank aside, are you sending us a scanned image of what printed or are these the originals? If they are the originals no wonder it prints bad. One is washed out. I assume you have printed both, scanned them and are showing the results.  If so, it would be nice to see the original images before they were printed to see if there is any obvious difference in them.

Also, from the file sizes one may have a higher resolution than the other.

If you'd like us to print it we will need the originals.
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Insignificant Volunteer earned 500 total points
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Easy enough to get the standard and EXIF data from both attached images.

122113-Resized-Head-Shot-Kelly-a.jpg

Taken with Nikon Coolpix L10 and downloaded/processed using Microsoft Windows Photo Gallery 6.0.6001.18000
Compression = JPEG, quality: 89, subsampling ON (2x2)
Resolution = 96 x 96 DPI
Image dimensions = 1021 x 877  Pixels (1.16)
Print size = 27.0 x 23.2 cm; 10.6 x 9.1 inches
Color depth = 16,7 Million   (24 BitsPerPixel)
Number of unique colors = 276
ExposureTime - 1/10.8 seconds
FNumber - 2.80
ExposureProgram - Normal program
ISOSpeedRatings - 800
CompressedBitsPerPixel - 2 (bits/pixel)
ExposureBiasValue - 0.00
MaxApertureValue - F 2.83
MeteringMode - Multi-segment
LightSource - Auto
Flash - Flash fired, auto mode, red-eye reduction mode
FocalLength - 6.20 mm
ExifImageWidth - 1504
ExifImageHeight - 903
SensingMethod - One-chip color area sensor
CustomRendered - Normal process
ExposureMode - Auto
White Balance - Auto
DigitalZoomRatio - 0.00 x
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm - 37 mm
SceneCaptureType - Standard
GainControl - Low gain up
Contrast - Normal
Saturation - Low
Sharpness - Soft

IMG-20131211-135126.jpg

Taken with Motorola XT1080 and downloaded/processed using Microsoft Windows Photo Gallery 6.0.6001.18000

Compression = JPEG, quality: 89, subsampling ON (2x2)
Resolution = 96 x 96 DPI
Image dimensions = 3240 x 1824  Pixels (5.91 MPixels) (16:9)
Print size = 85.7 x 48.3 cm; 33.8 x 19.0 inches
Color depth = 16,7 Million   (24 BitsPerPixel)
Number of unique colors = 256
ImageWidth - 3240
ImageLength - 1824
MeteringMode - Other
LightSource - Auto
Flash - Flash not fired, auto mode
FocalLength - 4.50 mm
White Balance - Auto

I think the camera flash has a lot to do with your printed results.  The flash fired on the Nikon camera for the "4 generations" shot, but not for the Motorola photo of the man and woman.  The "4 generations" one is "flashed out" as you can see from the woman's face , particularly the forehead and mouth area.  This is clearly shown by the negative of the image alongside it.
.If you compare the same woman from The "man and woman" photo taken without the flash firing, you will see that it is less stark and bleached out where the flash has reflected the most.
.
The "flashed out" photo taken with the Nikon is of much lower resolution than the other, and because the dots per inch settings is the same, the resultant printed image is smaller than the other.  This means that if you print the first image to anything larger than the print size of 27 x 23 cm, it has to be enlarged and therefore spreads the dots more than the original, making for an even worse print as though you were looking at an old newspaper through a magnifying glass.  Remember also that resizing digital images most often degrades them to some extent.

In my humble opinion, and I am trying not to be insulting here, the shot of the man and woman is always going to look fuzzy and washed out (on screen and printed) because of the flash washing out the faces and the smaller resolution and any degradation caused by the software resizing and resaving to a compressed image format. I also think that the photo is out of focus because the camera has focused on the wall behind rather than on the subjects' faces, whereas the "4 generations" shot has the subjects close to a plain wall and has focused more accurately on the subjects' faces.

When (as true Black and White or greyscale) the "4 generations" image is going to be a "denser" and better image than the "man and woman" one, and that is what I think you are seeing as the difference between the results.
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by:SStory
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I agree if what you gave us is the original photo. It is washed out and lower quality. If it is the scanned result of a printout that is different. Which is it?
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by:Insignificant Volunteer
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Looking back at my comment I mistakenly referred to the wrong photo in a couple of places.  Just to clarify, I was referring to the group portrait with the baby (IMG-20131211-135126.jpg) as being the better of the two.

The "man and woman" shot (122113-Resized-Head-Shot-Kelly-a.jpg) is the lower resolution of the two (smaller print size), taken with the 5 MegaPixel Nikon Coolpix L10 DIGITAL CAMERA which fired the flash and has washed out the faces more than the other.  This is the one I attached first with a negative, just cropped to the woman's head.

The higher resolution (smaller print size) image is of the "4 generations" (IMG-20131211-135126.jpg).  This was taken with a 10 MP Motorola XT1080 SMART PHONE on which the flash did not fire, and resulted in a more balanced and better photo.  This is the second one I attached with a negative, and cropped to the woman's head.

Neither was scanned, although it is possible that one, or the other, or even both, are digital photos of the hardcopy photo prints taken with the respective devices listed.  I don't think so though.  It's usually fairly apparent.  A scan of a printed photo cannot possibly retain the metadadata from the original digital camera that took the photo which was then printed.

gtoney001 - can you please confirm these details or correct them.
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by:SStory
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So if BillD is right, GIGO...garbage in, garbage out.  That means if you start with an inferior input, the poor quality photo, you will definitely get inferior output, the quality of the print.  I suggest asking a better photo.
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Author Closing Comment

by:gtoney001
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I appreciate the expert's instructions on the taking of the photos and what I did wrong in taking the the man & woman photograph .  I will be more careful in the future.  You can't insult a person when you are providing the information requested. I do not think I even considered the flash at all. It was fabulous that he printed the pictures and was able to explain to a novice what happened.  I really thought it was something I was not doing when I was trying to print it.  Thanks so much for the information.
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by:Insignificant Volunteer
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Thank you gtoney001

There used to be an old trick for getting better quality passport and ID photos from those booths situated in shopping malls and supermarkets.  You know the ones where you dump your coins in, go inside and close the curtain, then sit there looking at a wall trying to anticipate when the flash is going to fire for each of the 4 or 5 mugshots that it prints and you cringe when you see the results.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbdxm8Ia0Wc

They may have changed the flash in the last 15 years, but it used to be a large plastic rectangle in the wall that blasted a very directional and powerful burst of light onto your face, and if you had a shiny forehead or glasses, it would wash out areas and reflect badly.

The tip was to take a folded sheet of greaseproof baking paper in there with you and stick it across the flash with some peelable tape so that it diffused the flash into a more natural source of illumination.

The same is true with photography.  If you have a large area of light background behind the subject that is likely to cause under-exposure of the subjects, then you need to activate fill-in flash which is a less intense burst of light than the main flash.  If you don't have fill-in flash, then you need to try and reflect some of the ambient light onto the subjects.

In general you don't really want the camera to activate the automatic flash for run of the mill portrait shots indoors if you can help it, so the easiest thing to do to avoid it firing is to get as much ambient light into the room as possible by opening drapes, turning on lights, positioning articles that reflect incoming window light back onto the subjects, and even locating the subjects where they will catch as much of this light as possible.

The secret with compact autofocus cameras is to take a bunch of shots in various lighting conditions using all the different camera exposure settings while taking notes, then compare the results and see what works best for each of those conditions.  Knowing when to use the exposure lock on an area that is not directly on the subject is also a good thing to learn with the camera.
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