I've long suspected that my move from film to digital has come at a price. Very simply, digital photography, with its full color in-camera previews makes it easy to get in the habit of ''point, shoot, check the histogram then re-shoot if necessary." This method has created a lazy approach to the fundamental components of photography.
Back in my film days, 90% of my photographs were shot in b&w. Over time, I came to think in b&w. Only now do I realize what a powerful mindset that was. When you remove the color information, your mind changes. Think about how your previsualization works when you know that the color you are seeing will not be part of the final image. You immediately begin to focus on things like texture, contrast, tonal range, shape, and form. All of the subtle things can turn a good image into a great image. Heck, I used to actually use the "zone system" to place the shadows or highlights right where I wanted them. Just thinking about the zone system before pressing the shutter is an exercise in good photography. It causes you to consider the elements in the photographs as elements and how they should work as part of the whole.
Digital photography's convenience and free do-overs has made me lazy. "I can always fix it later in Photoshop," I would think. Well, as any good photographer will tell you...getting it right in camera is the beginning of a great image.
An additional benefit of removing color information from a photograph is that it allows the image to be viewed in a new way...one that emphasizes things that can get lost or muted otherwise. An example is above.
The color image was created five years ago; the b&w version was created yesterday after I came across the image while backing up files. The potential of this image escaped me when I first processed the color version five years ago. Look at how the contrast, tonal range, and texture really show up in the b&w version. I finally saw the power of these elements by converting the image to b&w.
Its time for me to get back to thinking in black and white.