You guys are amazing! Letís add up the number of fine art photographers in the US. Maybe a hundred. Now letís take into account if they make their living purely through fine art photography. Maybe a dozen or so. Ok, how many make their living contact printing on silver materials. Fits on one hand.
As far as I can tell Jorgeís remarks about POP and Bergger Ďcontact paperí were unsolicited, the poster was specifically questioning about AZO and Amidol. I think either of you must admit that Michael probably knows more about this subject than any of us combined. Why would you decide to split the thread? Jorge should really start to think a little bit about the responsibility of a moderator.
I am truly thankful that Michael is so active in these newsgroups and on his site. (most arenít). His experience and knowledge has been extremely helpful to me, without it I would be spending many hours and dollars experimenting just to find the results that I am now capable of. I donít discourage people from experimenting with different media, this is just an approach that I am not interested in.
Do I follow everything Michael says? No. I donít use straight ABC pyro. I donít use his amidol formula. I donít shoot the same type of subject matter that he shoots. His comments about AZO and other contact printing media are correct though. AZO has a scale just like other silver papers when developed in normal developers. When it is developed in Amidol, the scale becomes much wider. You can see some experimental data on this at the unblinkingeye site and on Michaelís site.
http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Azo/azo1.html
http://www.michaelandpaula.com/DJ_curves_article.htm

As far as art photography is concerned, I believe and I think just about everyone agrees there is more than one approach to photography. I have plenty of Salgado and Bresson books that knock my socks off. However, I am content to have their books. I would not buy one of their prints, because the book reproduction IMO contains most of the value of their image. Conversely, a reproduction of a fine print cannot capture the beauty of the print, and it must be viewed in person for their full effect. When people talk about contact printing with AZO and amidol they are most certainly pursuing the Ďfine printí that you deride.