What I meant in the last step... it is up to the artist to decide what looks good on the print. All the labwork up to that point is meant to give you a good negative. Some scientists say a negative with a slightly longer density range than the paper is recommended, then they qualify that by saying the final decision up to you.
In many discussions about zone system that I have seen (including this thread), it seems that the starting point is to meter the important shadow and reduce exposure by 2 stops. So this implicitly indicates that one is using a reflective meter on camera. A handheld meter only tells the exposure of 18% gray. If you put a handheld meter in front of an important shadow area and take the reading, you cannot simply reduce the exposure by 2 stops. Imagine that we have a scene that includes a building under sunlight. The shadow of the building include some light, grey, and dark objects. If one takes a reading of the shadow with a handheld meter, and reduces the exposure by 2 stops, it means that the grey objects in shadow are put in zone III, and any objects darker than grey are lost. But if one uses a reflective meter and takes a reading of the dark objects in the shadow, that becomes a different story. I guess my questions is how much shadow details does one want to preserve then.
Think of the Zone system this way. You're supplying Procrustes with an adjustable bed.
On the print, within the shadow (that you pushed down to Zone III dark gray) are some medium grays and some pitch black. That is the texture. If you look close at shadow on the print you will see what's going on. But if it was the main subject people would tell you it's too dark.
Cheers for all the info, very help full ..