This is the idea I'm trying to get across. http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1166813
Yes I know it's specifically about B&W but the theory is sound. The significant differences between B&W and Color are simply 3 curves instead of 1 and dyes replacing the silver.
The boxes in Ralph's diagrams define the portion of the curve that will actually print to paper in a straight print. The mid-tones from the scene can be placed properly and as expected on paper using various negs that have been shot anywhere from N to maybe N+3.
This is scene dependant. It assumes scenes/subjects with normal or narrow brightness ranges.
This is not some off the wall thought, Jose Villa, Jonathan Canalas and others make a nice living shooting weddings in exactly this manner. Landscape shooters that intend to burn and dodge a bunch to put more of the films curve on the paper may want to be a bit more picky about placement.
In practical application, the scene's relationship to paper is maintained and the negative and enlarger exposures are simply allowed to float in the middle somewhere.