Hmm, I've been thinking again...
This post got my wheels turning. I'd better answer and get back to writing my lecture for tomorrow.
This post got me thinking about how I approach an image. While reading and posting I concentrated on exposure and development; however, I had this nagging thought in the back of my head. What about the print? The whole purpose of a negative is to produce a print. IMO, we should start with the print. What is the contrast range of the paper weíre using? From this we can determine the necessary density range needed to achieve this range. This gives us the necessary information when we expose a sheet of film. After exposure, we determine the proper development to produce the range of densities we desire for our planned paper.
However, if we mess up the development slightly, which produces a change in density range. Then we can print on a softer or harder grade of paper. From this viewpoint it seems that exposure is most important (provided your using VC paper). If youíre an AZO user, then your negs had better be good!
Thus, Iím inclined to lean towards Lesí conclusion. Exposure is slightly more important since we can compensate for slight changes in development with VC paper.