The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate the increased flexibility provided by black and white in interpreting the tonal range of an image; it can allow far more aggressive changes to brightness and contrast than would look reasonable in colour.
I selected two images for this exercise – one which would best suit a strong increase in contrast, another which would suit a low key treatment. I’ve been looking through the book “Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs” so ended up selecting a landscape for the second image.
I increased the contrast, adjusted exposure and increased black levels. These are the results in black and white and colour.
I had to manually adjust the white balance of the colour image, as it ended up far too blue, but I actually think both versions look reasonable and I slightly prefer the colour version of the two.
I reduced the exposure in this image, then added a bit of fill light to bring out some of the detail in the shadow. In black and white it looks almost like a night shot – in colour I think it doesn’t look much more than underexposed. The black and white version I feel does change the nature of the image – effectively and significantly, while that kind of change isn’t achieved with the colour version.