I started out trying to guess the right contrast grade and never felt confident. Then I tried split grade printing and my printing improved dramatically. Split grade printing is a great way to get started and also a great technique for people who really know what they are doing to manipulate a print.

However, then I switched to BTZS techniques and my negatives got much better and much more consistent. I also gained more experience. Then I did a one day worskshop with Per Volquartz which was excellent. Now I just look at the negative with a loupe and guess the contrast between grade 2-3 for the test print and tweak from there. I find it is much quicker that split grade printing and I can still burn with soft/hard filters.