Hi Peter, thanks for your post.
I agree with you about Ilford Galerie...it's a beautiful paper and was the one I switched to after Zone VI 'improved' Brilliant with Brilliant II and changed the contrast. I also agree with you that a graded paper like Galerie is much more flexible in the developer than Multigrade IV, and I also used to extend developing times or use Zone VI developer and Selectol Soft in combination to get intermediate grades of contrast.
I switched to variable contrast paper when I began using masking techniques, because (and this is purely a personal choice) I felt I gained a level of control I couldn't with graded papers. The combination of sharp and unsharp masks in concert with variable contrast gives me so many choices, sometimes I find it overwhelming.
When I started printing I used what Ansel used, rationalizing if after all his years of experience those were the equipment, techniques and materials he had chosen, that if my prints sucked it could only be because of me, and not any other link in the chain. For those just starting out, there's probably no better way (aside from a workshop or appreniceship) than to find out and use the equipment, materials and techniques of the photographers they most respect.Originally Posted by Peter Schrager
Finding this combination of paper, developer, and toner is all based on touchy-feely, interpretive, emotional stuff...nothing you can plot on a graph. I liked Ansco 120...I felt Ansco 130 had too much 'snap & sizzle' for my tastes...I liked the keeping qualities of Glycin...so why not shuffle the deck and make a developer of my own, to suit my work and my way of seeing?
All I know is I've made my choice, am confident in it, and can start reprinting everything without any doubts whispering in the dark.
Send me a PM with your address and I'll mail you a print.