Black and white photography is of course, the original format for photography. It was a great triumph when the first images were captured and fixed in black and white. The invention of photography stands as one of man kinds most important events in the history of human communication.
Black and white photography has a more limited range of values to work with then color photography does. It essentially strips an amount of information out an image, and converts our real world of color into a surreal world of black and white.
So you want to take great photos in black and white, what steps should you take? Many professional photographers can actually see in black and white, and this is an important and useful skill to have. Ansel Adams also described this ability and took it one step further and used to pre-visualize exactly what he wanted to see rendered on the print, and try and make the exposure for this. Adams was a master of black and white photography and craft. He invented a system for creating black and white silver gelatin prints called the Zone System that is still studied today. Adams was a first a great pianist before a photographer, and he often made a relation between the notes on a piano and the various value levels in black and white photographs, and how they work together in similar ways, and also harmonize together in similar ways.
Digital photography has also helped black and white photography become easier and more creative. There are several techniques that can be used to convert color digital images to black and white. These range from the simple techniques that let Photoshop do all of the work, and advanced techniques that allow you to control every small detail of how the colors are converted to black and white values.
Black and white photography takes practice too. Try taking lots of pictures and converting them to black and white and see what works, and what doesn’t. If your camera has the ability, try to put it in black and white mode, you don’t even get a chance to see the colors before the exposure, this can help your thinking. Or lastly, try out 35mm black and white film. Black and white films are still loved by aficionados, and still have a sublime feel unmatched by digital technology.