Black and white is making a big comeback. Two of the biggest reasons that account for this are digital imaging and the desire for photographers to take their image making to a new level.
In black and white photography, colors are reproduced in shades of gray based on how much light they reflect. The greater the reflectance, the lighter the shade of gray. Learning to see in B&W requires you to develop an eye that allows you to preconceive how colored tones translate to shades of black, gray and white. Predominately light tones produce high key images while mostly dark tones produce low key images. High key photographs evoke a dreamy and soft feel while low key ones infer a somber and dark mood. Images that show a full range of tones with details in both the very light and deep shadow areas are classic examples of a successful black and white print.
Digital imaging is doing wonders for the resurgence of B&W photography.
CS3 has made converting any color capture into a stunning B&W simple. Open your image in Photoshop and go to the Layers pull down menu in the Option bar. Navigate to New Adjustment Layer and then to Black and White. A dialog box will appear that has colors and sliders. Moving a slider to the right will lighten the color in the original capture to a brighter tone of gray. Conversely, moving it to the left will darken it. Additionally, there’s a pull down menu at the top of the dialog box that automatically let’s you experiment with different effects. Try them out to see how they interface with the image. When you feel the image looks good, click on the OK button. Additional contrast and exposure adjustments can be made using Levels, Curves or Brightness/Contrast.