Quote Originally Posted by Rafal Lukawiecki View Post
Also, as I read between Michael's various comments, I gather that a more holistic approach to all the components of the tone reproduction system, once assimilated, ought to help me achieve my goals.
Essentially my point is that targetting a negative density range to fit the paper is ok for subject brightness ranges within a fairly narrow range, but when you approach high contrast scenes you need to be more "intelligent" about how you use the zone system (or any other system of applied densitometry). Aiming to have a certain density range in all your negatives is, in my opinion, a naive approach to any system of controlled exposure and development. In some cases you may find even though your negative fits nicely onto the paper, you've actually lost more than you've gained. When you are making a photograph and metering the various shadows and highlights, remember to also think about everything in between and how you envision the print. Don't just do the calculations. The final print is what counts. Make sure your negatives contain all the information you need to get there.