I love black and white photos. I shot Kodak Tri-X and Plus-X films for thirty years with each one having it's own special look. Among most photographers Tri-X is and always will be the reigning king of black and white films. I developed my own films so it was easy to control contrast range, gamma curves, shadows and highlights.
With digital it's not quite the same look (if you're picky) but it has it's own appeal and looks pretty darn good if you tweak it carefully. There's no right way just what looks good to you.
I shoot the original file in color mode even if I know I'm going to de-saturate to black and white in post. Sometimes the camera will interpret the colors different than I'm seeing them and a happy accident will occur and I'll keep that image in color,
Once I have my file in Photoshop, I switched the mode to Monochrome or Greyscale and
then tweak using just 2 tools, Highlight/Shadows and Curves.
There's no special method or path - each image is different and I go with my visual gut.
For those of you familiar with black and white developing; the Highlights/Shadows tool is like manipulating developer temperatures and N+/- contractions while the Curves box is like fine tuning the H&D curve in real time. Which is probably the coolest thing digital has added to the black and white process.
Click images for bigger.
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