By Lesa Snider, iStock evangelist and author of Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual
A great way to create a non-destructive yet gorgeous black-and-white image is to use a Gradient Map Adjustment layer. In fact, pro photographers swear by this method. To do it, open you image and set your color chips to black and white by pressing D (which stands for default).
Because the Gradient Map Adjustment layer you’re about to add uses your foreground and background color chips, the result is less startling if you set them back to factory-fresh black and white first (though you can always change the gradient colors later).
Next, click the half-black/half-white circle icon at the bottom of your Layers panel and choose Gradient Map. Instantly, Photoshop maps the shadows to one end of the gradient (black), and the highlights to the other end (white). Add it all up and you’ve got a truly spectacular black and white conversion!