Very good reply. That account between Picker and Caponigro is in Fred's "The Fine Print" which goes into detail of the thought process and darkroom techniques used for each image, including paper, developers and additives such as potassium bromide, glycin, sodium carbonate and others. It is comparable to Adams Fifty Prints book.
Pushing the limits of the paper are essential. I personally now use Oriental Seagull graded paper and use Dektol, Selectol Soft combinations. But develope the paper from 2 to 5 or 6 minutes. One experiment is to just see how deep a black a paper will produce by over exposing, full development, toning, drying, then comparing.
When printing, even a second in exposure can make a difference. For me, producing a fine print should take at the very least, 4 hours to determin, exposure, proper contrast, burning, dodging, flashing. Then comes the archival procesing, washing. Caponigro insisted on prints that lived, and that takes time and persistence.