Blocked up shadows and blown highlights are often a way of hiding excessive and unwanted detail with 'amateurs'. Some people like bold images, but lack the ability to see bold subject matter/compositions. It's seen as a creative compromise or an afterthought in that regard.
I suggest you pick up John Blakemore's Workshop book which covers the art of contrast control like no other book I own. It certainly taught me a great deal about the art of contrast. His prints tend to be very somber, but with full detail. The master of high contrast image making is without a doubt Thomas Joshua Cooper. That's how it's done properly - serving the subject matter appropriately.