Some details on my method

Even with my analyzer pro I still use several test strips. I have an odd method; however, it seems to work for me.

I first look at the print on the easel and decide if anywhere is going to need burning in. This is where the analyzer pro is really handy. I can measure if a certain area will need 1 stop 2 stop etc.

I then decide where the highlights will be with my base exposure. The analyser pro will often give me a starting point; however, I usually expose three or four pieces of paper to get the highlights right. To do this, I tear up a sheet of paper into small pieces and position them where needed in the print. I use the f stop function on my timer to print each piece above and or below the starting point suggested by the Analyser pro. On each piece I write the time and develop them all together.

Once I've decided upon my highlight time, I print a full sheet at grade two to start working on the correct contrast grade. This is where having a calibrated system is really great. I spent a weekend once figuring out the contrast grades for my dichroic head. Now all of my settings are the same density. Thus, my highlights stay the same when I change grades. From the grade two print I decide if I need more or less contrast. Once this is decided, I return to dodging and burning.

For dodging and burning I again print on small pieces of paper. The Analyser is often hand to get a starting point; however, I print several pieces, write the exposure info on the back, and develop all of them. Often, I will take all of the pieces and lay them on top of my working print. As I sit around with a cup of coffee, I decide how much burning/dodging that I like. Once I've decided which parts I like the best, I create a burning dodging plan. Often though, I return to the darkroom and make many more little pieces of areas at different grades. The end result is a base exposure and burning/dodging plan that covers several grades.

My method uses alot of paper; however, having a calibrated system saves paper in the long run. I have two densitometers, f-stop timer, Analyser, and more; however, the method that produces the best reults is lots of little test prints. I think that my results improved the most when I started sitting down with the puzzle pieces and building the picture.