High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is becoming more and more popular – and easier than ever with programs like Photomatix, and now with the new (and greatly improved) HDR Pro in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Even though these programs are powerful and offer almost endless creative options, you will find that exploring additional black-and-white options open up additional creative possibilities. I say "additional" because you can desaturate an HDR image to create a black-and-white image.
One reason for the added creative options in black-and-white imaging: When you remove the color from a scene, you remove some of the reality. When you remove some of the reality, your picture can look more artistic and creative.
Here are two examples of black-and-white HDR images. Both images were original created in Photomatix from color files. To create the black-and-white effect, I used Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro plug-in.
As an aside, Ansel Adams was a master of HDR imaging. He created high dynamic range images in the wet darkroom by burning/dodging, using different filters/papers/chemicals, and by vary exposure times. Kinda interesting when you think about how long HDR has been available – to pros like Mr. Adams.
Back to Silver Efex Pro. You'll find several cool Presets, which suggest starting points for your images. One is Antique Plate, illustrated below. After selecting a Preset, you have many other creative options, including which color digital filter to apply to an image, shadow/highlight control, brightness, contrast, and of course, control points.
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If you have CS5 (or CS4), other options for creating black-and-white images are available in ACR (under the HSL tab) and as a Black-and-White adjustment (use an Adjustment Layer).
Have fun creating your black-and-white HDR images.
Explore the light,