Believe me I went through a long period of reinventing the wheel, and I definately am an advocate of testing in order to learn for oneself what is best for his or her needs. I also agree that my Czech friends are a little bit militant in their views (we've had some very lively discussions in this realm), but I do think there is something endemic in modern western society that makes us want to take short cuts...to be on some sort of fast track to mastery, and that if we pay the bucks for this enlarger or that workshop, that it will be the answer to all of our problems...its not just a photography issue...my last visit to a supermarket in Canada had me so wide-eyed I didnt make it past the ice-cream aisle. Supply tells us that there is real demand out there for someone or something to show us the way and make our dreams come true. I also firmly believe that in order to be free creativley we must have a solid technical base, and diligent, consistant work procedures...I'm sure my Czech friends would agree completley on this. I myself have worked long and hard on my procedures and its paid off. I certainly have no arguement with the value of forums like this and other methods (workshops included) of sharing our experience and discoveries...its why I'm taking the time to be a part of it. I used be in a tailspin over this paper/dev combo or that film/dev combo...cold light vs. condenser...the list goes on. I really found myself obsessing over all the possibilities and if they might not be better than what I was using or doing. Maybe it was a good exercise that I went through all these permiatations, but oddly enough, apart from a few changes I went back to what I had always done. I really do believe many of us do get brainwashed or at least persuaded by what manufacturers or even what fellow photographers are telling us about what our images should be, so we then go on a mad search for products or gurus that will ensure this result.
Maybe I shouldnt have had those two pints before responding...maybe I should've had a Tall decaf,half-calf, no foam latte.
Goodnight from Prague.