I can pass on some tips that I have found over the years trying to work with Black and white and achieving pleasing results.
1) You really need sunny days, I find my black and white shots always look better on sunny days due to the higher shadows and contrasts, the down side to this is that really sunny days have clear blue sky’s and this is not so good, makes for a boring sky, the ideal day would be partially sunny and cloudy.
2) You ideally need to switch your camera to black and white mode to help you “see” in black and white. My Fuji X100 has this feature, in fact it goes one step further and switches the EVF to black and white too, this is a brilliant feature, when set up in the black and white mode you can “see” black and white through the view finder, this is hugely helpful.
3) Change your settings in the camera if you have them. I find you need to set it up, drive things hard and don’t be shy, I set my sharpness to Hard, set my contrast to hard, set or use a yellow filter, again the Fuji shines as it has all this build into the control menus on the camera. black and white is all about light and dark and I like to have as much contrast as I can without loosing detail in the shadows and not loosing detail in the highlights, the settings mentioned above all help.
4) Post processing, again don’t be shy, whack up the contrast and sharpness and balancing it with the shadows control to ensure the detail is not lost.
This still some what of a journey for me and I still working on my black and white photography but I am starting to like the results more and more and suit my taste. I hope some of these tips help your black and white images become more alive as if your like me standard setting for black and white are for the more part rather washed out and dull.