Bruce,

You raise a valid point. I think that the matter of print contrast is almost a personal matter. I remember some years ago that I had the opportunity to view some 11X14 contact prints of Brett Weston's. I was absolutely appalled at the empty blacks that he printed. However today I have an great appreciation for his images. The difference is that at that earlier time I was operating from the Ansel Adams lineage of full and present detail in all areas. Thus there were different views by two different yet equally gifted photographers.

On the matter of contrast, there are, as I view it, at least two different (possibly three) different contrasts at work in a print. The first that most people operate from is overall contrast. The second is local contrast. Some people that this to a further classification beyond this.

I think that local contrast is what brings "presence" to a print. More recently I viewed some prints made by Edward Weston. These seemed to be printed very heavily to me initially. But they had a presence that was unmistakable.
This presence is what some people name a "glow". Here again we have another gifted photographer and an entirely different way of printing.

Oliver Gagliano (sp?) and Don Worth have prints that absolutely jump out at me. Very high overall contrast in both cases. Different gifted photographers and still different printing styles.

In essence, I think that you observe something that your personal tastes don't follow. There is nothing wrong in either viewpoint. Yours or the photographer that printed in a certain way.

Good luck in your photography.

Donald Miller