Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
Compressed highlights are, to me, more difficult to deal with than a full range of tones with normal contrast, even if they don't immediately fit on the paper tone curve. Compressed highlights carry with them the burden of needing contrast adjustment at the printing stage, while a normal contrast with dense highlights just require burning, which is super easy to do. See what I mean?
So again, apologies for what might seem like basic questions, but I am trying my best to learn and this has been a great resource so far. I think I might be confusing tonal compression, exposure density, and what actually happens on the shoulder of an emulsion. In the limited amount of printing I have done thus far, it's been easiest when there is clear tonal separation in the highlights that is present in the negative itself. When that has been the case, I find that a slight increase in the contrast filter (if even necessary) gets me the print that I am looking for without having to dodge and burn (as a general rule - again, the new kid on the block and just starting out). Based on what I have read and what I understand, which is what I am trying to confirm, this means that the range of exposure/development on the film falls more or less on the straight line of the curve. My understanding is that, had there been overexposure, the upper zones or highlights would have been pushed on to the shoulder, resulting in little to no separation in the various tones of things like clouds.

Am I generally on the right path here?

So, my question is then about the comment that compensating developers essentially force the film to shoulder off sooner and why that would be desirable? Again, based on my understanding at this point, that is likely to make life more difficult as you are likely to lose tonal separation in the highlights of the negative itself, making the printing process more difficult.

Guys, I really want to stress a couple of things: first, I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the help I get on these forums. Compared to certain other sites where the tone is much less friendly (no need to name some of the usual suspects), this just seems like a chat in a bar over a beer with a couple of buds; second, part of my confusion seems to stem from the fact that there is a ton of contradictory information on the internet and the information can be a little difficult to piece together from different sites, books, etc.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

-Matt