More important than making rules for what is right is finding a way to keep your vision fresh and your response to your own work unregulated.
My vote goes to full tonal scale print on the right. The greater contrast gives the image the vitality which the highly toned version on the left lacks.
Morry Katz - Lethbridge
Thomas, I know why you've asked this question -- it's something I've been thinking about as well. I had the opportunity over the past three years to visit many of the major photo exhibitions in Paris, where I paid particular interest to exactly this aspect of the pictures. I was surprised in many cases to find the photographs I knew so well had less black than I "remembered" from seeing prints in books, and in most cases the lack of really deep black was not missed. Here's a parallel question - is "contrast" just another way of saying deep blacks and bright whites, or can it be something else?
It's been a million years since I printed B&W but my procedure then was to NEVER print quite to D-Max. I selenium toned to deepen shadow areas without losing detail.
With regard to the toning... This is printed on Fomabrom Variant 112 matte paper, using Ethol LPD developer (replenished).
When the print is washed, I bleached it in dilute potferri+bromide for about 15 seconds, then toned in the Kodak Sepia II (warm tone) toner back to complete tonal scale.
On top of a wash, I also dunked the print in selenium 1+4 for about 30 seconds, which gave the maroon color base in the low and mid values.
Ralph, I think you hit your head on the nail when you mentioned mood. I don't know if you all can see from the uploaded scan, but the 'noise' in the darker areas of the building is snow. It was snowing. It was a quiet morning. Cold. The water was still and calm. I tried to capture that stillness and calm, and the higher contrast version Ralph created just doesn't represent the mood at all.
But then again, the high contrast looks pretty cool, and more often than not I modify my prints almost beyond recognition of a straight proof print, just to express mood better...
I think we will all just never agree how prints should be made. I usually like a strong black, but there are exceptions.
Next time I go into the darkroom I'll try Bob Carnie's suggestion of throwing some high contrast #5 filter at it to gain some definition in the sky, stacks, smoke, and texture of the building.
If I remember I'll post a scan of the resulting print here.