A recent article by Howard Bond in the Nov/Dec Photo Techniques had me thinking about the old max black method. Don't forget to determine your "max" black in the same light you normally use to view prints. It really is just a perception of the max black a paper can produce. Try looking through the paper using transmitted light and you will see the blacks continue to increase even though you can't see this with reflected light and normal lighting. The point is to find a black that is just black enough. This puts the shadow detail on more of the paper curve's straight line. Too much exposure will bury your detail in the shoulder leading to the paper's max black. I find that print exposure time can be really important for the shadows as well as the highlights. Anyhow check out the Bond article if you have a chance.