I've recently returned to the cult of the latent image.
Over the past few years I've read at least as many opinions, editorial reviews, and articles online that pertain to photography as I once did in print many years ago after I bought a Yashica MG1 and subsequently set up my first darkroom one summer break during high school.
It seems to me, if I'm remembering correctly, that getting the right print in a “wet” darkroom involved a bit of trial and error. The time I remember in a darkroom consisted of getting my makeshift dark room “light tight” (anyone else remember that term?) for the session, mixing chemicals, taking temperature readings and adjusting ice baths accordingly, shaking film developing canisters like a mad soda jerk (okay, it was more like gently stirring), then squeegeeing and hanging film strips to dry. Next session, I would tighten everything up again, mix chemicals, take temperatures, and make contact sheets that would help me to choose what images to commit to print. After choosing an image, I would take some time to consider what paper to print on and, after narrowing down my options, make test strips on those papers, determine overall exposure values, make a test print, determine what needed to be dodged and burned, then finally get to the hard work: creating a final print. I thoroughly enjoyed those sequestered days during the summer of my 15th year. It was a summer’s dalliance that lingered well into college and has made its influence felt again in my middle age.
Today the digital darkrooms that have replace wet ones for most including me seem to be populated (if forums are any indication) by a great number of people who have spent good sums of money on purchasing Photoshop, a “high end” monitor (or two), calibration HW and SW, a "Pro" printer, and as a result expect their prints to be a “perfect match” out of the gate as if a perfect print is only a matter of matching what they see on a screen (“calibrated” though it may be). It wasn’t easy when I was an adolescent and it isn’t any easier now. I'm glad its still not easy and I have to work as hard now as I did then. Choosing inks, profiles, and papers has replaced picking the chemicals, papers, and filters of my youth. Things have changed as much as stayed the same. Creating a satisfying print from a latent image will never be a mechanical process no matter how much mechanization and technology it takes achieve that goal.