After years of b+w printing with the same materials and enlarger, I work rather intitively. I make an educated guess at the exposure based on the appearance of the image on the contact sheet. I use ripped up paper about 2 inches square placed on an important area of the photo (eg. a face) throw it in the developer to see what comes up. I usually only have to adjust the exposure by a few seconds to get it right. Then I make a full sheet at that exposure. Then I'll decide if any dodging or burning need to be done (usually burning the edges) and make a second full size print, usually 5by7 or 8by10.

Getting a new enlarger a year ago set me back on the learning curve for a bit but now I'm almost up to speed again. People have different styles of working; some are meticulous and write enerything down and others like myself are more intuitive. I use photography and darkroom work as therapy and for artisic expression. For me it would be counter-productive to work in an orderly way. With enough experience, you do get to the point of being able to "eyeball" it. I know this would drive the meticulous workers nuts, but it works for me, and that's what photography is all about for me.

It's kind of like a time some years ago when I joined some friends in throwing darts and having some beers one night a week. For all of us it was just recreation, but when they got really serious and began counting backwards and calculating which numbers to hit near the end of the game to be able to finish efficiently, it stopped being fun for me and became a chore, so I stopped. It would be the same for me and photography. My real job is very regulated and provides me with enough mental stimulation, for recreation I'm looking for a creative outlet and I've found it in photography, doing it the way I'm doing it.