Ever notice how most digital black & whites look sort of washed out? That’s because they’re using what an off-set printer would call an “unsupported” black. When a graphic designer wants a pure, rich black they use a black “supported” with additional inks making a dark silky black instead of a sort of dark grey that would appear if you used just black ink.
Well, the same principle applies to black and white photos. By blending additional inks into your black and whites you get a richer tonal range which gives you more details in your highlights… a complaint many film shooters have about digital images.
Take a look at these for example, a black and white made by just desaturating the colors vs. a duotone (or tritone) image. As you can see by using additional inks you can create black and whites with a lot more visual appeal.
Good news is duotones are very easy, and I made a quick video tutorial to show you how. Enjoy!
If you don’t already have a copy of Adobe Lightroom I highly recommend it. Available at B&H (with a $50 discount through 1/2/11)