Sometimes the perfect ingredient in a black and white photo is color.
The sun had just set and the desert was settling into blue hour. The only remnant of color was on the towering butte as it caught the last warm light of the day. I liked what I was seeing but I wanted it to be even more dramatic. The viewer's attention should be be on the craggy rock and I wanted to minimize all other distractions. This image wasn't going to be about the sky or the pretty colors so converting the shot to black and white was the perfect choice.
In this case we had a pretty good contrast between the butte and its surroundings and I simply wanted to exaggerate the effect a bit. I wanted the blue areas of the image to be darker, have less contrast, and show less detail while the remaining red or orange bits showed more. The solution was to use the digital equivalent of a orange filter during the black and white conversion.
When you use a filter anything in the scene that is the same color as the filter will show up lighter while the opposite colors will show up darker. You can see why I used this tool here. Once it was applied all I had left in the image was the towering butte emerging from the shadows. I finished the image by adding a light touch of burning and dodging.
Without the dramatic color in the original capture this image would have taken a bit more effort to achieve. Just a bit of color is all it took to let the drama to emerge.