Wow, that's a good text (although it's long and it took me a couple of days to read it, sorry for that!).
The moral of the story is: don't use prints as a reference True. I wish I had any real PAPER Kate high-quality photos. I always draw from my computer so the the effect depends on the way my screen display works (sometimes it doesn't and there are problems with the angle and so on). The good thing about drawing from a photo IMO is that no one dies or gets ill from posing for you! (like Waterhouse's Ophelia girl!)
If I were you I'd surely adjust the image before printing. Change the contrast until it came out the way I wanted it to. But we use totally different means.
I think if an artist isn't happy with his/her work that's good. But someone said- an artist cannot be humble! And no, I didn't notice your multiple uploads!
I know a lot about destroying an image by 'improving' it. :< That's why I don't do traditional art- I can't get used to the lack of -UNDO- and checking different options for colours and so on. Guess my imagination is too poor for traditional art.
Anyway, pleasure to read your blog entries. I like the metaphor of the corridor and the room at the end. Well, sometimes it's basement in my case