Black, White, and Everything in Between

Ok, technically a black and white photograph isn't black and white, it's grayscale.  A grayscale image is made up of many different shades of gray, not just black and white.  BUT, for the sake of this blog I will call it black and white. (Sorry you grayscale aficionados.) 
I'm a big black and white person.  I love black and white.  It's classy, timeless, vintage, hip;  texture and form are accentuated more;  shadows and highlights are used more creatively.
However, the main reason I love black and white is it allows the image to be more about the subject. 
Color is a good thing.  I love color equally.  But, oftentimes when color isn't part of the subject it can become a distraction.
I shot some candids of a little boy at a wedding last month.  He had curly blond hair and blue eyes.  In my opinion, he's very "Cali" (that is, California).  Very photogenic almost two-year-old!

I love this picture, but it didn't look quite right.  My eye wondered around the photo a little too much.  I don't NEED to see the green or yellow in the photo.  It doesn't add anything. 

A simple conversion to black and white made all the difference!  He stands out more and the viewer's focus is on his expression (and his beautiful curls). 
Here he is boogying to some tunes at the reception:

And black and white:

So how is a color photograph converted into black and white? Thank goodness for digital! Photoshop and Adobe Elements both have very simple and easy ways to convert your color photo into a decent black and white.
For professionals, I highly recommend Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro. For a while I've painstakingly converted my colors by using curves and photoshop's black and white conversion features. Never being totally happy with them. Often the photos come out looking washed out or featureless. Therefore, I've left most of my images color unless I really wanted to spend a lot of time creating a good black and white conversion.
I like Nik's program since I can remain in my image management software, Apple Aperture, and produce quick and stunning black and whites all the while having awesome control.
For the purist at heart, they've added black and white film profiles so you can emulate the look and feel of different black and white film brands! I used to shoot with tmax, h5 and h4 before I converted to digital and got away from the chemicals. I'm amazed at how close the profiles are!
I think in a future post, I'll post a film scan and a digital converted image and see if y'all purists can tell the difference!
Should be interesting!