I certainly get where Michael Johnston is coming from. I see a lot of stuff that starts life as a color camera file, gets dragged through post processing and unceremoniously converted to monochrome without any color filtration naunce, and then gets flogged into submission via high contrast, high clarity slider action, followed by gratuitous monkeying around with skin tones making them both too light and too unbelievably smooth. Some of my friends say Luminar 4.0 can fix all this but my rejoinder is, "why mess up the files in the first place?"
The file above is one I did of Rebecca with LED lights bounced into a big umbrella, in a room that was already swimming with diffuse window light. My old Sony A7Rii struggled to hold detail in the highlights in the original color file even though that camera was widely regarded to have a "wide dynamic range."
I don't like to overfill shadows so I left the darker areas exactly as they mapped over from the conversion. I think the flesh tones on her hands are just right and I think I've finally found the right exposure to keep the highlights in check on the right side of Rebecca's face while not letting the shadows submerge too deeply. It's a balancing act, but it was the same in the days of film.
But, it's interesting to remember that film didn't have a baked in contrast setting. It was different depending on how you developed it and in what you developed it. Another layer of interpretation was deciding which grade of paper you would use in printing, and then even how you developed the prints.
We spent a lot of time in the darkroom burning and dodging to get the tones that Michael seems to be referencing but we tend to forget that in the current time of convenient sliders.....
Below are some other black and white expressions; each subjectively processed to meet my idea of what the final images should look like....for me. And yes, original prints did all have their own color...
A Hasselblad homage to a croissant. And an elegant hand...
At the Ellsworth Kelly installation.
Blanton Museum grounds.