Hi Terry,
I use both negative scanning and contact proof printing in my work flow, so it's not an either/or proposition. In fact, negative scans can be very useful for experimenting with manipulations I might want to use during the actual printing stage.

I don't have a particularly fancy scanner, since my final work product is a wet darkroom print.

I hope other photographers here will contribute examples to the thread so we can all learn from different types of images and personal work and interpretive processes.

The F.stop exposure system is a way of determining times for dodging and burning based on the main exposure time. For example, if the main exposure is 16 seconds, a burning-in exposure of 1/2 stop would be approximately 6.6 seconds (1/4 stop=3 seconds; 1 stop=16 seconds). Dodging an area of the print during the main exposure would work the same way; a -1/4 stop dodge would be approximately 3 seconds.

Note that I don't work so precisely with my burning and dodging times so the times are simply approximate proportions of the main exposure. I hope this helps.

All the best,