When I first started shooting I just didn't understand black and white. I couldn't figure out why people didn't prefer color. We see in color, and there is so much beauty in color, I just couldn't imagine shooting anything in black and white.
As I started to seek out stronger compositional elements like shapes, lines, and forms, I also started to experiment with black and white to try and understand how it changed and focused my pictures.
What I hadn't realized was that I was shooting at times of day where black and white conversion was less effective such as low contrast times like sunrise and sunset. There just wasn't enough difference between light and dark to give things shape.
What I also found is that processing in black and white simplifies compositional elements. When you are trying to represent shapes, lines, and forms, black and white helps distill an image down to remove the distraction that color can sometimes cause.
I also liked that I could remove detail from the shadows to form shapes. The black and white in this photo make the bridge wires, road, and vehicle shapes stand out from the sky. Where the blue sky might draw your eye past the bridge, the black and white version helps you focus on the bridge and semi trucks. It accentuates the shadowy truck against the sunlit truck above and creates a dynamic between the two. In color, the clouds become the subject, and the red in the flag pulls your eye away instead of merely balancing the image.
It is funny how your perceptions can change with a little bit of effort and a desire to see things in a different way.