Sandy wrote, "I don't think you and Kirk have any fundamental disagreement. He is saying that with graded papers stained negs print just like non-stained negs. You are saying that the proportional stain acts as additional density in the upper density regions. Both statements are essentially true."
Sandy, I do agree with everything said in that paragraph.
Sandy wrote, "What one can say is that when developed to the same effective printing contrast, as measured by the spectral response of the process, stained and conventional negatives print virtually the same. I am not going to say exactly the same because there is one area where I find that even with graded papers tanning/staining developers give better results, and that is when printing strongly backlit scenes."
I also agree here - please note that I said that "the shape of a PMK neg printed on a graded paper looks very much like the shape of a non-stained neg printed on a graded paper." I can not say that they are identical, but they are very similar.
Sandy, thanks for giving an example that one would not observe from printing step wedges but only from shooting real world subjects! It is easy to get wrapped up in testing stuff and forgetting the ultimate application. I'm not saying we should not do testing, but it is good to remember that the tests we usually do, do not always tell us everything about our materials.