Sorry but this all sounds like arty baloney to me. There is absolutely no reason high artistic creativity cannot coexist with masterful technical understanding and interest in the same person. There is nothing about someone being interested in technical details that inherently makes him worse at seeing. You're all missing the point. No serious photographer thinks toning prints, testing films, or delving into the intricacies of the process, will make better images. And actually I see way, way too much work in galleries, magazines etc that seems to exist solely for the purpose of being technically bad, as though that somehow elevates it beyond the pedestrian work of great artists who also happen to be interested in technique.

"When faced with a choice it is better to have a poor photograph of a good subject than a good photograph of a poor subject."

Who doesn't know this? And so what, anyway? I'll take neither, please. I'd rather have a good photograph of a good subject. But these days that option seems to go out the window.

"Will my images be better if toned?"

Well obviously not.

Clearly certain technical paths become rat holes, but many can be useful if they are well understood - and to me understanding something well means knowing how to use it as a tool, not as a rule. I've never thought much of things like BTZS because they often imply a level of precision that is not realizeable, and people tend to use them too literally, thinking they can somehow produce fine prints by formula. I disagree with that approach. But understanding materials and processes, and frameworks like the zone system can be beneficial if we treat them as tools to help us realize our visions in the final prints, rather than using them in methodical but ultimately thoughtless ways.

Entirely too much technique bashing goes on these days. I blame the influence of silly quotes from Brett Weston and others, words I think are highly suspect anyway.