A correctly exposed and developed negative makes darkroom printing easier. It has good separation of tones in highlights, midtones and shadows. In the above example negatives the white areas are shadows and the dark areas are highlights.
Compare the detail in the shadow areas of the three images. Notice how the amount of detail increases as the exposure increases.
Compare the detail in the highlight areas of the three images.Notice how the amount of detail decreases as the exposure increases.
A correct exposure has a good balance of shadow AND highlight detail like the image in the center.
Use your mouse to rollover the "negatives" to see what the "print" positive looks like.