The light at my monitor location is perfect for just a few hours every afternoon. Sitting at my monitor, I'm facing east; about 8 feet to my left and a little behind me is a huge north-facing window. About 20 feet to my right is another huge south-facing window that allows only indirect light into my desk area. There are no windows behind me and none in front. Holding a print up to the screen, I can see both the print and the screen very clearly at that time of day. Any other time, and it's snapshots only, and only if they're not important ones.
Printing standardized test images: All the white and black patches are distinguishable (just barely, in the case of black), both on-screen and in the print. Skin tones look fine. If I had not compared them closely with the screen image I would think they were great. (I know a print can't look exactly like a screen image. More on this later.) Color swatches are close but not quite the same.
The first 10 or so prints I made with this printer were standard test images. I've felt all along that they were perfect, and I thought I had finally gotten the screen and printer in sync. What made me realize there was a problem is that the last 2 images I've printed looked great on-screen but flat and dead in the prints. Just horrible. I was going crazy trying to decide just exactly what was wrong with them: brightness, contrast, or color. THAT'S why I resized the onscreen image to the same size as the print, so I could do a very close-up stare-and-compare, trying to find exactly what was different between the two. That's how I realized that there were some warm tones (dead leaves, rocks, etc) that just were wrong. So then I went back to the standardized test images; they look good when I just look at them like you normally would, but if you look really close at the tiny color swatches you can see that some of the reddish ones aren't quite right. I've gone all through the different color ranges using Elements and Gimp, trying to correct those colors, and I just can't get it right. That's why I was asking if the monitor could be the problem. Oh, and since Lowner mentioned that possible problem with the printer profiles, I printed one of my "dead" pictures using a different paper (Kodak) and the appropriate profile, and it looks exactly like the one on Canon paper.
I know that prints can't look exactly like screen images, and for some photos, I could take the little bit of color difference I see in the standardized test images. But it just kills these 2 photos I'm trying to print now, and so I figure there will be problems with others in the future, so I need to get it figured out.
Since I can always see all the steps in the gray scales, I'd thought that my monitor was fine, but if it can't reproduce all the colors accurately, that's a problem. So just to be sure I understand, are some monitors incapable of producing colors correctly? (I'd hate to spring for an IPS monitor and have the problem be me!)