Printer profiling

I’ve been living with awful prints for a while. I used Red River 68lb Glossy Pro (they don’t make it anymore) and could just never get the profiles to work right. Everything looked so red. This used to work fine on my Windows machines on the same Canon i9900. I don’t know if it is software or the inks or the printer, but in any case, I was frustrated enough to go out and buy a color profiler for the printer. I’m not sure it makes a big difference yet.
But I went out and bought new paper (Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl) and tried it with the default .icc that comes from ilford.com and I was surprised when I got a pretty dark and green hued print. Sad. Sad. Photoshop CS5 is unbelievable complex when you try to import a DNG file so I’m not sure what is wrong. I have color profiled my monitor with the Datacolor Spyder3Elite kit (a huge present to myself) and the colors should be right.
But here is what I’ve learned:
* Ilford recommends their iccs. These are way better IMHO than the Red River in that they tell you what paper to use (this is encoded in the name of the ICC file) and also turning off color management. So I tried it and got the green and dark photo. They recommended printing this in Relative Colormetric with Black Point Compensation. 
* I then tried to use the Datacolor Spyder3Print and on my first try, I got an even darker photo. There are so many variables, but the big ones are how to print. Turns out they recommend saturated because it uses the full gamut of the printer. Makes sense to me, so I ran the profile through twice. Did a profile and then printed again. I was surprised to see that on the second time around the colors weren’t stable. That is the hues were right but not the brightness.
* In looking on the web, the big issue appears to be making sure that when you do the print and then run it through the color scanner that you do each patch correctly. Good point. When you have 225 patches, you can definitely miss one. 
So net, net, it looks to me like
* If you are a casual photographer things work pretty well with the vendor supplied ICC
* If you really care much, then you have to spend the dollars for something like the Spyder3Print.
* After you get the ICC right, then you need to make sure your monitor stays in calibration, the lighting conditions are right (Spyder3Elite does all this) and then get the profile and print it in Saturated mode (even though Photoshop says don’t do this).

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