Using your photo printer to the fullest does not require expensive equipment. This is a step-by-step guide for those who want to calibrate his photo printer at home.
Ink + paper = something unexpected
You should know that ink is either a solution of coloring agents or a water suspense of solid color particles. And paper is some porous surface with certain roughness, own whiteness, thickness and reflecting power.
So when ink meets paper, rarely something good comes out of it (especially when they are made by different brands) under default printing settings: the results of this interaction are often hard to predict. Bu there’s something you can do about it.