Some shots are just meant to be converted into black & white and there’s really no better tool than Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. I’ve tried many different black & white conversion techniques in the past few years and nothing I’ve found works half as good as Silver Efex Pro.
Here’s what the raw file looked like in Lightroom 2 before any processing was done. Not a bad color image but fairly bland given the cloudless sky and dry conditions. Converting this image into black & white added the extra contrast that was needed to give the image a little more vibrance and “pop”.
One thing to keep in mind when converting to black & white using any technique is noise. I always run Lightroom’s or Dfine’s noise reduction before the black & white conversion process. This helps eliminate the artifacts that can occur when high contrast images are converted to black & white.