There will always be room for the special quality and elegance of black and white digital photography images, especially when combining it with the many benefits offered by digital photography in general.
In digital photography and imaging there are many features and techniques available for image control and management. Whereas these are mostly aimed at color aspects, many of the techniques can be applied to black and white digital photography.
Most of the effects you can create in the traditional darkroom can be imitated with imaging software such as Adobe Photoshop. If black and white photography is your area of expertise, you need to discover the wonderful world of black and white digital photography.
As digital cameras generally only take pictures in color, the most basic element of the digital darkroom you will need to master, is how and when to turn your digital color images into exactly the black and white digital photography image you want.
In Adobe Photoshop you can follow three basic routes to this conversion.
In black and white digital photography, the first and most straightforward way is to do a simple conversion to grayscale, the computer term for black and white. This tells the software to throw out all color information, leaving your picture only with shades of gray.
The snag in this method is that it can leave your image looking relatively flat, depending on the original colors. Adjusting contrast afterwards can cause the loss of quite a bit of detail.
Another way of getting that color out of the picture, is to separate the colors of the original in such a way that you end up with a separate lightness or luminosity channel, which can be used as a grayscale image. This method of implementing black and white digital photography should give better results than a simple grayscale conversion.
A better way than both the above black and white digital photography techniques for getting that grayscale image, is to use Photoshop's channel mixer. You will in effect retain a RGB (color) image but convert all the channels to monochrome, and then adjust them separately and in combination.
This is just some of the many techniques and procedures you can explore in the world of black and white digital photography...
If you are just starting out, some useful tips to keep in mind while getting comfortable with black and white digital photography are:
The Canon 20D lets you view color in black and white for RAW mode, giving you a good idea of what images will look like.
In black and white digital photography you should be careful not to overexpose highlights. You want to capture as much data as you can, without the highlights falling off either side of the histogram.
Don't convert to grayscale too soon. Masking, layer blending, etc. is easier with a color file than with a monochrome file.
Photoshop's Channel Mixer gives the best control over the tones of your image.
To achieve more tonal richness in your printed image, print the black and white digital photography image in RGB format, otherwise only the black ink will be involved.
After all is said and done, you will do well to keep in mind that there are more similarities than differences between the basic elements of black and white digital photography, and those of the film world.
As a black and white photographer, you still have to understand how to read the qualities of light and color in the scene in front of you, to be able to predict how they will translate into the final black and white digital photography image!