Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Benskin
Here's an interesting question. Except for special cirumstances, all scenes look best in a print when there is a full range of tones. Why can't we let a flat scene remain flat in the print (apart from artistic considerations)? It's flat in nature, why not the print? Maybe a question for another thread.
Should we let a flat scene remain flat in the print? Purely a question of photographic aesthetics that has many answers. Just look at Peter Henry Emerson's platinum prints of the Norfolk Broads for an idea of a photographic aesthetic that is very different from that of today. Emerson, who based much of his theory on the work of Von Helmoltz's Physiological Optics, concluded that it was impossible to reproduce in a photograph the extremes of light and dark found in nature. To compensate for this he recommended a compression of tonal values, which explains why his platinum photographs, and those of several generations of pictorialists, have a very flat look.

Anyone with a little time on their hands and interested in why we print the way we do might find his Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Arts an interesting read.