Black and white works in shades or tones of gray. You need a pure white and a pure black somewhere in the image to anchor your tonal range.
Too little tonal separation and you have a ‘flat’ image.
Too much and you have an image that is more like a poster – too ‘hard’ or too contrasty.
Black and white photos makes you focus your attention more on shapes, forms, lines etc. You have to think with and compose by forms, scenic elements and contrasts.
Black and white photography also sometimes improves an image by removing the distractions of color from the scene.
This is already a ‘busy’ image – there is a lot happening in it– the rain, the rider, the motion, the sign, the background – too much going on to easily get the visual ‘joke’, but when you remove the color the eye takes in the main cues faster:
Here’s a geometric composition. The color is unnecessary and somewhat detracts from the overall effect (um, what effect? Hey, go take your own shots!)
You see life in color so you can just shoot away at nice scenes and then check them for B&W values in the computer later. Image editing software has this function usually under IMAGE > Mode > Grayscale.
Caution! ALWAYS save your original color file because you can’t put the color back once it’s gone.Once you convert a color file to B&W, run auto-contrast (ENHANCE > Auto Contrast) to get the contrast right or correct the contrast manually (ENHANCE > Adjust Lighting > Brightness/Contrast. All colors convert to shades of gray and a straight conversion without adjustment can leave you with a ‘muddy’ looking B&W image.
Black and white photos can add or intensify a mood (like loneliness or isolation if you’re into that kind of thing) that color misses.
Black and white can give an old-fashioned or historical feel to an image.
If you want to roll time backwards…
Here are some “real” black and white photography tips…
If you want to get really good at this stuff, Check out Beginner Digital Photography Here