In reply to Mr. Mainecatasbigasadrafthorse : Ciba had to be routinely masked not only for contrast but for color reproduction errors. If one wanted to master Ciba, being comfortable making masks was vital. Basically, you used masking to bludgeon the medium into submission. Masking for dye transfer work is generally even more involved, but is mainly related to balancing all the different separation negs, matrices, and dyes to
one another (an oversimplified explanation). Supplementary silver masking with current color neg films printed onto RA4 papers is optional and
more like power steering - just a little goes a long ways. I find myself making either simple mild contrast decrease or contrast increase masks
for about 30% of my color negs. It's kinda like having the variable contrast option with black and white, and at this point in time is capable
of dramatically improving the rendition of color neg images when the basic orange mask isn't dead-on in terms of magnification ratio or
contrast-related color saturation. It's a very valuable tool to have, though a lot of color neg printing can obviously be done without it.
But at the moment I am routinely making RA4 prints with just as much snap as Ciba, and better hue reproduction. But the inkjet and consumer electronics propaganda machine seems to have convinced everyone that this is impossible. After all, how can it be true if it's
actually cheaper and faster?