I have been printing pictures for some time and all of a sudden they started coming out tinted in yellow. My goal is to print some Memory Books for my Grandchildren and I am unable to proceed like this.

  • This question is an introduction to color management and may answer your question photo.stackexchange.com/questions/21357/…
    – Michael C
    May 25 '13 at 19:18
  • To give a comprehensive answer it would help if we know what type of camera and settings you are taking the pictures with, what your workflow is between the camera and the printer, what type of printer, and what printer settings you are using.
    – Michael C
    May 25 '13 at 19:21
  • Just to cover all bases...if you are printing at home, are you sure you did not run out of one of your inks, or did one of your inks clog? Sudden changes in tone of photos printed at home is often the result of a lack of one of the multiple color inks working.
    – jrista
    May 26 '13 at 4:02

If the color on previous pictures was acceptable to you, then the question to be answered is, "What factor(s) changed that led to the different results?" There are several possibilities.

  • The environment the pictures were taken in. Different light sources have different temperatures. If you take pictures outdoors, sunlight during mid-day has a bluish tint. Traditional tungsten light bulbs, on the other hand, have a very yellow/orange tint. Most current cameras do fairly well when set to auto white balance, but there are limits to what the camera can do on its own, especially if there are mixed sources of lighting in the scene. A typical scenario might be sunlight from a large window, tungsten bulbs in a lamp, and florescent lighting from overhead fixtures.

  • The camera's white balance setting. If your camera is set to auto white balance, it should be able to adapt to most changing lighting conditions. But if the setting is on daylight (that little symbol of the sun), cloudy (the sun plus a cloud in front of part of it), or shade (a house with an area of shade on one side) and you are shooting indoors under tungsten lighting, the pictures you take will have a yellow or even orange cast to them because you are telling the camera the light is a cooler blue color when in fact the light is a warmer yellow/orange color.

  • Your photo editing/processing/printing software's settings. The white balance (WB) settings of any software you use to edit or print your photos might be set to the incorrect WB for the conditions the photos where taken under. If you tell the program the picture was taken in the shade when it was actually taken indoors under traditional light bulbs, the results will be yellow or even orange.

  • Your printer's cyan ink supply. Cyan is the bluish color of one of the three colors of ink, along with black, that many inkjet printers use. The other colors are yellow and magenta (kind of a reddish pink). If the ink cartridge in your printer is out of cyan or the head is clogged preventing it from reaching the nozzles in the printer, then only the yellow and magenta inks will be printed on the paper. This will give the picture a reddish/orange/yellow tint.

All of these issues combined, along with calibrating your monitor to accurately display these colors, is what is known as color management.


The most surefire way to see if it is something with the printer/print settings or something with the image files themselves is to try printing an image you already printed. If it prints properly, then something is probably wrong or inconsistent with your workflow prior to printing. If the image still comes out poorly, then it is probably something with your printer or print driver.

Assuming the later (which seems more likely from your description) the first thing I would do is a nozzle check on the printer. It is possible for ink jet printer nozzles to get clogged and when they do, ink won't flow properly and might not make it to the page. It would also be good to check the ink level to ensure that there is still ink for each color (particularly magenta and cyan since the image is too yellow.)

It is also possible that if you changed paper types or if you are not using a matching paper and paper type setting in the print drivers, it could be applying the wrong balance of inks to the page. Color gamut (the range of possible colors) can vary greatly from one paper to another and so the print drivers have to adjust for this.


In order to eliminate the possibility of the error coming from your printer I will suggest that you print one of the pictures at your local commercial printing facility (somewhere such as Kmart - for about 20 cents). If the printing comes out as you expected then you know it is your printer playing up. You might want to clean the nozzles as prescribed by the manufacturer.

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