Just happened upon this thread. Interesting subject.
Personally, I think the black and white image removes the distraction of color. In a color image, the subject matter can often be overwhelmed by the color itself. Color can overwhelm my perception of light and shadow. In a color image, I want my focus to be on the subject—anything else should simply add mood. Background material should not be too busy. This is why I feel it necessary to have as narrow a depth of field as possible when doing people shots in color.
Originally Posted by David Brown
In black and white, the lack of color distraction gives me more opportunity to enjoy the visceral nature of light and shadow. Things become more poignant, more striking. I can't quantify what it is I see (or don't see) other than to say it's simpler.
I guess that I could say it's like the difference between watching baseball and (american) football.