Not pictures, this more about tools.
When I started doing photography, tools was a simple concept. Body, lens, film.
It grew, I added tripod, and flash (because it's about control. The tripod controls the camera, and flash adds more control of light), some reflectors, cable release, filters and the like.
In there too, I moved to the darkroom, and a whole new set of tools/controls. Now there were developers, in addition to films, and temerature, push, and pull processing. After the negatives are developed one gets to ponder the same issues for paper (chemistry, temperature, filters). Paper was amazing. It still is.
If one only goes to the shop to get prints made, then paper comes in two kinds, glossy, and matte. I prefer matte. Yes, the surface finish reduces some of the sharp edges of things, and that reduces contrast; a touch, but there is, to me, a naturalness to matte finish, and it's more inviting to the viewer.
If, however, one goes to the darkroom to make prints, the paper choices swell to level of a kid in a candy shop. We have brands to choose from (Oriental, Ilford, Kodak, Agfa, Fuji), surfaces (matte, semi-matte, glossy) grades of contrast (or multi-grades), and tone (cool, or warm).
With so much to choose from one built habits. Paper/film combinations which one sets as standard (for me it was Ilford HP4/5 and Ilford Multigrade Pearl) because we like the look. But some things were special. Oriental Seagull Fiber Based warm tone makes incredible portraits. If one wants to imitate Hurrell, this is the stuff to use)
Enter the digital age.
The basics are the same. Body and lens. The film is built in. Scratch one set of choices. No more do I get to pop a roll of Velvia in the back.
Well, I can, but I have to learn how to tweak the controls; set a bank of adjustements to get what I want.
But I don't need to. Because, where I used to take my color to the lab to process, now I have to do it myself. Which is interesting. I can shoot a picture (like the poppies I shot last April) which were made for Kodachrome, and make them look like Kodachrome. I an also, in between a set of poppies) shoot something (like a field of grass, just between new yellow, and ripening green) which cries out for Fujichrome Velvia. I can mix in some portraits, and make them look like Provia, etc.
Great... or not so much. Because I am now the printer too, and I have to have machines which render the color right. So I need a tool to calibrate the monitor. Adds a couple a' hundred bucks to the the sunk costs. That, of course, pre-supposes I have the software to do it, (the learning to diddle the print will come, trial and error, and maybe a couple of hundred dollars worth of books; to learn the hidden bells and whistles. Some can be gotten from the library, which is probably a good idea, buy the ones which are good referents).
So, we've got the image, we've played with the colors, contrasts, extended the tonal scale, compressed the washed out shadows and made a picture worth showing off.
If we don't want to have the computer in the room (or we want to send a copy to Aunt Millie), we have to print it.
Which brings us back to paper.
Assume we have an adequate printer, which aren't that expensive. Some of the ones getting top marks, perhaps the one being used when you order an oversize print from the store, are running $500, and can be found for less; with sales and rebates, so a printer isn't that big a deal. Forgo that new lens until Christmas, have the printer for your birthday. When looking at one, however, think about the ink costs, which can be horrendous. If so, plan to use that printer for nothing but pictures.
The colors aren't in the paper anymore. But the surface is, and the paper sets the white point. Digital hangs on the white point, The brightness of the paper will be the difference between blue-white snow, and merely pale.
Buy the expensive packs of 4x6, or 8x10, and test them. Ilford Photo Pearl Paper give a more luminous tone to things. The colors seem to print true, but the surface is stippled, and the edges blur (which can be fixed, some, by oversharpening the image, just remember to fix it before printing on glossy).
Ilford's Printisia has a more red shift to it. Sie by side images show a difference in either hue, or saturation (I think the latter). Canon's Photo Paper Pro Glossy does the same, so I think it has to do with absorption, at the surface, as well as diffusion by the viewing light source.
I have a lot of papers to try (I want to see how Oriental's digital photo papers look. The specs are interesting) but, on the plus side, there's nothing to worry about, if I have a large supply of various types on hand. I don't have to keep them in the fridge to prevent them from going bad.
Which is a long way of saying, "plus ça change, plus ça la même chose