After chasing the mythical magic bullet for a few years, I've decided to give up the search altogether. Werewolves, after all (even those guarding the realization of one's vision in the proverbial flesh, as it were), are killed by silver bullets. And yes, the pun is very much intended.
I have a friend who collects and sells, among other things, old photographs. Some I've seen and handled actually date back to the civil war. It was that damnable Hollywood still that drove in the final nail, although the hammer belongs to the images of Herman Leonard, a tome of which I recently purchased. The print was from the 30s or 40s, and I know not one of the subjects forming the crowd in the image. But the paper was thin and very crisp, the lighting superb, and the elements of the image looked as though they were tiny dolls, eternally trapped in an invisible ether...
These experiences led be back to the dark (read: bath) room to make contact prints of some 5x7 images I was particularly fond of, but had thus far only scanned and printed. Thus, the die has been cast. Don't get me wrong, I really like what I've been getting from scanning film and printing in black and white. But, when compared, even at comparable sizes, with chemical prints, I find I am severely underwhelmed by them.
Then there is the question of whether or not potential clients care about the process. My experience has convinced me that the vast, vast majority definitely do not. But I am doing this for me as much as for the viewing public. As a visual fine artist and illustrator, I always preferred quill pens to Rapidographs, but used both. I always preferred oils to acrylics, but used both. I always wished, however, that I'd produced my favorite images using my favorite media. In other words, I have some acrylic paintings that I wish I'd done in oil. And some images, done with technical pens, I wish I'd done instead with a quill pen. My reasons for using "second choice" media always had to do with convenience. It is much easier and far less messy to paint with acrylics, which clean up with water, than to deal with the solvents and accompanying fumes that painting with oils always entail.
It is far easier to scan and print digitally, in my opinion, than to do it the old fashioned way. And the results I've seen, even from those more adept, perhaps, with scanning and printing than I, always fall short, in my opinion, when compared with silver versions (well executed, of course) of the same images.
This diatribe is not intended to fuel debate...I just wonder: who agrees?