Why do we still shoot (or rather: process) in black and white?
- Black and white (B/W) takes away distractions: you concentrate on the subject, nothing else.
- Grey tones are beautiful.
- In black and white processing, you can apply “filters”, in effect making any colour show as light or dark (you can turn a yellow shirt into white, black, or any in between).
- Skin tones are easier to fix – you can get rid of skin imperfections by brightening the red and orange parts of the original image in the B/W conversion.
- Mixed colour light (eg tungsten mixed with flash) is no problem in B/W.
- Finally: black and white is much more forgiving. If you have under-or over-exposed, you can fix it in B/W without showing much degradation.
And as to how: I strongly recommend that you shoot in RAW and convert to B/W after the fact, on your computer. That way you can decide on your “colour filters” later (in Lightroom, Photoshop or Aperture – but I recommend Lightroom), and you can try different settings.
My suggestion: go convert some images to B/W now!
Adobe Lightroom 4 is released today at a very affordable price.