Quote Originally Posted by fschifano View Post
Grade 3 will be grade 3 no matter what you do. The paper's contrast curve is what it is and changing the light source will not affect that. Going to a diffusion type light source will help a little, but only just. In reality, all that really changes is that the transitions from dark to light tones become a little smoother.
As long as you develop "to completion", that's true.

Quote Originally Posted by fschifano View Post
Pre-flashing the paper will help a little, and it works by raising the fog level. If you're not careful, you wind up with less than clean whites and/or muddy shadows. It works with some images, but it's not a panacea.
The way I've seen it (by experimentation), it doesn't affect Dmin, at least in a perceptible way. Any photographic emulsion has some kind of inertia. It needs a minimum amount of exposure to record something. If you give it a minimal amount of even exposure, it will later react to further exposure quicker. What it means is that void highlights tend to have some more detail, but I agree, it's not panacea.

Quote Originally Posted by fschifano View Post
Pulling the paper before development is complete is almost asking for trouble. Paper develops fast, and it's too easy to get an unevenly developed print that way. A soft working developer is probably your best bet. If you can source Selectol Soft or something equivalent, try it. There are lots of formulas you can mix up yourself that will give similar results. But before you go through all that trouble, you could just try diluting Dekol 1+4 or even 1+5. It won't have much capacity or tray life, but it will act like a soft working developer. If you look at the soft working developer formulas, you'll see that they contain less alkali, less developing agent (usually metol), and more bromines than standard developers. Adding a measure of well used and partially exhausted paper developer to a more dilute working solution of Dektol will accomplish that.
Yes, snatching paper from the developer tray can lead to uneven development - streaking, but that's why I proposed dilute developer. You see, 3 times more dilute developer is slow; some would say boring. In the end, you can have repeatable results, as long as you're consistent. One more detail that I missed previously is the need to use a fair amount of concentrate. You can't expect to have capacity and stable performance if you use too little.

I tried this technique because I'm curious and because the available papers and chemicals over here are very, very few. I find it a viable technique if you want to use some materials for something that they weren't meant to be used.

Quote Originally Posted by fschifano View Post
In the end though, the best use of the paper would be to use it when a hard paper is called for. That's how it was designed and that's how it will work best.
Agreed!