Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
And Jones would not really disagree with you, Max. As long as you can make the print you want out of the negative, not much else matters. This must be the case, since great prints can be made, and have been made from poorly controlled negatives - which is testament to the flexibility of the process and our materials. The theory here is not to tell you what a correct negative is. It is to help one understand how what we see in front of us translates to the negative and then to the print. There is a series of steps in the end to end process, yet many practitioners of applied densitometry methods keep these steps (exposure, negative, print) in silos.

Assuming you have no interest in applied sensitometry, ok. But - exposure and tone reproduction theory probably should be of at least some interest to all the people out there who do use the ZS, BTZS and whatever else, because while these systems give people the sense they are in control of the results, they may not actually be getting the negatives they think they are. Again, the flexibility of the process often allows us to unconsciously work around these issues (especially if we refine our printing skills) but why not try to understand a little more about what's going on? Why do we find a personal EI that differs from box speed? Do our expected shadow exposures end up where we think they do? How does our perfect negative translate to the paper? Or at the very least, if someone has no interest in how these things actually work, don't write a book or with all kinds of misinformation.

Note Stephen had his own reasons for the thread so I'm not putting words in his mouth. These are just my views.
I agree with you, 100% Michael. No problem with that all. In fact, I have used BTZS, have tested film and paper, and have worked extensively with densitometers, especially for photogravure. I think knowledge is a wonderful thing, and yes, it can certainly lead to a better understanding of "how" things work. I just don't think it that, in general, all of this knowledge gets applied to produce meaningfully better images/prints. Actually, in many cases, it tends to bog down the photographer to a point where he/she becomes too enthralled in the details and forgets about the larger picture (pun intended)

From personal experience, when I have used BTZS and ZS, with paper testing, I was able to produce "ideal" prints. With all tones in the right place, without much dodging or burning needed, etc etc. Correct prints, yes. Moving? For me, not. It wasn't until I realized that to print what I had in mind, to achieve my vision, I had to throw away some rules and think outside the box a bit more. The latest batch of prints I have posted are the results. Of course, not everyone will like that, but I do. It's how I see things. If I was going to play by the rules, those images/prints, would not look that way. I am over-exposing, I am overdeveloping, and printing on grade 5. All of it without the use of a densitometer of course. Interestingly enough, most of those prints, have required no dodging or burning at all, except for maybe a few cosmetic reasons, and not to fit the negative on paper.

Anyway...these are just my opinions, of course, and I think Stephen does wonderful work by sharing his incredibly extensive knowledge.