Jones writes, It must be realized that the negative itself is only means to an end and it makes little difference what its characteristics are, provided a print of satisfactory quality can be made thereform...As a matter of fact, it seems logical to take the position that the characteristics of the negative may be anything so long as a satisfactory positive can be made...having the proper characteristics."
Originally Posted by AndreasT
By mentioning flashing prints, you are already aware the characteristics of the negative is only part of the process. There are a number of ways to get higher gradients in the shadow and a softer highlight. The two 4 quads are a rather simple and straightforward approach. The 4 quad on the left can be considered normal. The one on the right uses a slightly higher grade paper. In the upper right of the 4th quadrant, reproduction curve, is the breakdown of the gradients between each reference step. The steps in the shadows has increase gradients while the upper portion has to balance this out by producing lower gradients. Step 2 has increased from a gradient of 1.15 to 1.35. Step 3 from 1.12 to 1.40. On the other end, step 5 has decreased from 0.98 to 0.88, and step 6 from 0.80 to 0.52.
The negative density range is slightly larger in this example than the paper's LER. Depending on the scene, this may not matter, or can be control through printing techniques.
4 quad - normal reproduction.jpg 4 quad - higher shadow gradient.jpg
A technique I've used to bring out the local contrast of the midtones and lower midtones is to develop the film for normal, use an unsharp mask to control the highlights, and print on a higher grade of paper.