If I keep my #2 filter in the filter drawer and just rely on a single exposure, I can get a photograph where it would be passable IF they came from a one-hour photo place. Many non-photographer people thinks those are good photographs.

But I am not satisfied with that. Why would aim so low... My role models are not one hour machines but they are fine art photographers that will turn out stunning work.

For that, careful use of base exposure with proper contrast grade and exposure time, multiple dodging and burning using same or different grade contrast filters, and even different paper textures. Bleaching and toning may be required. This is especially true when what I saw and what I visualized isn't exactly the same.

None of them are distractions. None of them are unnecessary - to me and for me to get closer to what I am looking to create. I sometimes spend half a box of paper trying to get what I want. (and still not get it) Grrrr....

I wonder what OP is looking for. He once said dodging and burning isn't necessary. Now he says contrast control isn't necessary. Can you explain a bit about your goals and motives??