To follow up on the previous post, I've decided I was wrong about Udayan Behera's picture. I guess the water color does have a jade/alabaster/onyx thing goin' on, like the reader named Carl and one other person suggested in the comments, and upon further reflection I think it's not as unattractive a color as I first thought. And the B&W conversion is indeed too flat, as others claimed—the color variation in the water does add subtlety and visual interest. So, despite my initial reaction, I guess that it's better as an example of a picture that works in color, and thus ought to be in color, than the opposite.
Sometimes I suspect that color disturbs me in the way that flowers disturbed Degas (a critic I read claimed he made flowers his main subject only once, and was known to have had an aversion to them). My initial reaction to "too much color" is often negative. Black and white has an easier, more immediate and more natural appeal to me. However, I do understand that other people feel the opposite.
In response to several comments that really raised my eyebrows, I have to say that anyone who thinks that B&W merely signals "pretentiousness" should make an attempt to, um, get over that. It's liable to give you a severely distorted view of photography.
It's also a little amusing to someone of my generation to hear such a thing. I grew up (I was born in '57) in a culture where, with the sole exception of the fine-art world, color photography always had greater prestige. It was more expensive, harder to do, and books and magazines and finally newspapers that offered color illustrations were understood to be offering added value. Millions of people put up with the towering inconvenience of living-room slide shows just to get that Kodachrome color. B&W was widely understood by the public at large to be cheaper, more common, more "old fashioned," and less prestigious. For a number of years before USA Today came along, black and white was most prominently seen (by the public, at least) in newsprint.
One commenter said, "I suggest that you replace your lady's portrait with 'Afghan Girl' by Steve McCurry. In B&W it's pretty ordinary—in color it is one of the great photographic icons of the 20th century."
Although this comment isn't wrong, it's important to note that it misses the point of what I was suggesting. I didn't say that great color pictures ought to have been taken in B&W. (Although I can think of a lot of Technicolor movies I think should be black-and-white-ized.) I recommended converting color images to B&W temporarily, while you're editing and working with them, as a way of getting to know the picture better and understanding how it works—checking to see if the meaning of the picture is still coherent, and to see if the structure, composition, and blocking of lights and darks holds up, or not, without color. By this measure, Steve McCurry's picture does fine:
It's not better in B&W than it is in color—or, at least, I would have a hard time evaluating if it were, since I'm so used to the real (which is to say the color) version—but I don't think anyone would question that the B&W version, the plain "luminance structure" of the picture you might say, is sound. If he had taken it on Tri-X, it would still be a strong and well-seen photograph, if perhaps not a world-famous one. In that sense it's a positive example of what I was suggesting, not a negative one.
The apple picture (all three variations are the same picture) was taken with the Pentax K20D and 35mm DA Macro lens, handheld. Do you see the dark bird's-head shape in the middle of biggest reflection in the apple? That's a lawn chair my son was holding over the apple in a futile attempt to reduce the reflection. In the "Learn Something New Every Day" Dept.: Lots of light gets to a shiny Red Delicious, even at dusk.
Featured Comment by hywel: "I read an interview with Steve McCurry, somewhere on the internet, a couple of years ago now, in which he said that all his colour pictures worked in B&W. I can't find it now, I have searched, but I remember it well because it made me think, 'perhaps that's why he's one of the few colour photographers I like,' and it's also the reason that no picture in my hands makes it though photoshop without turning B&W at some point."