When Do You Choose to Convert to Black and White?

All photographers share thinking as to how we work, edit, compose our images, even camera technique from time to time. One of the other things we all share is the internal battle we often have as to when we convert to black and white and when we leave an image in color. Of course this is usually subject specific. But at times a black and white can simply make an image come to life. And as much as I loved being in the darkroom many years ago, I can try many more "what-ifs" in a very short period of time with todays digital tools available. From Lightroom and Photoshop to plug-ind and stand-alone editors such as Nik Software by Google and Tonality Pro from MacPhun, the edit possibilities in black and white are endless.

One of my favorite images from a recent Avett Brothers concert, the color has impact and adds a high energy mood to the image.

While I like the image in black and white, it feels to me that it lacks impact and energy. While far from being flat, it feels that it is missing a world of contrast. 

On the other hand, there are times when a seemingly fine color image will almost magically come alive in black and white. Impact increases, interest increases and you will want to share it with others. While black and white images are usually enhanced by colors that are opposites on the color wheel, in the case of the image below, it simply looks great in black and white, regardless of the colors in the original...

I have learned over the years to not automatically assume color is better just because an image is colorful. You have to get in the habit of trying "what-ifs" quickly to give the image a chance to stand on its own as a great black and white. You'll be surprised by how often you'll make the conversion.  Enjoy and happy "black and white'ing..."