Just a small point of black-and-white technique in passing: this shot is an excellent example of what's called a "tonal merger." [Note: See update below.] If you look carefully, you can see that the cat in fact has an intact left ear. But the tone of gray and the texture of the ear (at these sizes anyway) very nearly matches the tone and texture of the background, making it look like someone has taken a swipe with a machete at the side of the poor animal's head.
The obverse of the problem of the tonal merger indicates one of the skills involved in good black-and-white photography that doesn't necessarily pertain to color photography (because color provides contrast). Looking for an example in the recent book Ansel Adams in the National Parks, "Mount Wynne, Kings Canyon National Park, California, c. 1932" on page 79. Here, he's gotten the mountain in shadow, waited until the bright clouds backstopped the entire line of the mountain ridges, and darkened the sky with a filter. It's not his most successful picture, but it demonstrates handily just how much managing tonal contrasts came as second nature to him.
Tonal contrast that either reveals and clarifies form or intentionally obscures it for expressive reasons is at the heart of black-and-white "seeing." It's why "hail Mary" conversions to "save" a digital color picture in which the colors don't work are often no more successful in black-and-white than they were in color; they weren't well seen in terms of monochrome tonality in the first place.
UPDATE: Ah well, I'm wrong. The photographer of the linked cat photo, Gabriele Lei, a.k.a. Gafo, has confirmed that the ear I "saw" in the JPEG was a phantom extremity: "His left ear was completely cutted off," he says on his flickr page (English not being his first language). Of course, in general the comments about tonal mergers still stand, but obviously I should begin with a true example....
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.