Just a few notes:

1) In my experience the more darkroom 'tricks' one knows implies that the photographer routinely produces negatives of, shall we say, widely varying technical quality. They often expose in a haphazard way and work in the darkroom later to pull a good print from the negative. Others have no idea what they wan t in the final print when they expose, make exposures that will provide some information in the negative and then 'post-visualize' in the darkroom. To pull good images from these negatives can require all sorts of manipulaations (including nose oil). I know very few darkroom tricks and techniques.

2) In the past, I had done so much Zone System testing and material standardization that all my 4x5's could be printed at a standard printing time of 12 seconds. I'd just plop the negative in, set the standard aperture, standard enlarger head height, give the paper 4 3-second exposures and there would be a very well, if not dead-on print.
I'm a lot looser today, but I still work at producing the best negative that I can. I look a negative as being like a mold, the fewer imperfections in the mold, the ferwer things I have to repair in the copies that come out of the mold.

3) I have no problem with making backup negatives. When I go on a trip that costs money and time and I have a good image, you're darn right I'm gonna have at least one backup. It would cost a lot to try to come back and re-do it. And we all know you can't really ever go back, something always changes. The backup is there because stuff happens in handling film, doesn't it? Heck the holder may be bad, I may not have had it seated in the camera correctly, who knows. Making a backup is no reflection on one's craftmanship. However, bracketing the heck out of every scene, is. But bad craftsmen can certainly produce great art, can't they? Eugene Smith made horrible negatives (an old girlfriend was a student of his, this according to her), but he should could print well from them. I was in Yosemite today and the Merced river was at a very low level, exposing rocks that would normally be underwater. I took what I believe will be several good images today. Since I may never see those rocks in that particular way for the rest of my life, you can bet that I have more than one backup of the good ones.

4) Pepper #30 wasn't called that because EW liked the number 30. It was at least the 30th pepper he had photographed. I haven't even gotten around to Pepper #1 yet.

4) I have no idea what art is.

5) I do know what craft is.

-Mike