So often I find myself taking ordinary images and converting them to black and white, only to find that they are still ordinary images, in black and white. There are exceptions of course
Flag by David Vasek
but generally speaking I think a mediocre image is going to stay that way regardless of the color saturation. Knowing this when I go into a shot forces me to really concentrate on the composition and other “interesting” elements of the shot beyond just the color or lack thereof.
One thing I definitely struggle with when shooting landscapes is the high contrast between the landscape and the sky. I don’t always have my filters ready to help compensate for the drastic dynamic range, so all too often I find that my highlights are completely blown out. Of course, with the 5d mkIII I not only have more dynamic range, and in-camera HDR, but that only goes so far. Converting a blown out color image to black and white won’t help with those highlights; it is true (to me) that sometimes the blown out highlights add contrast to the image, but there are only a few instances for me where that has really worked right, and in all honesty wasn’t something I planned on when I took the shot.
Bottom line is to watch your exposure no matter what, and don’t assume that black and white will magically fix a poor image.
I’m going to do a write up specifically on the 5d’s HDR functionality as I am able to play with it more.