Hide the Flaws
I love the black and white and vintage look to photographs. Even better this look is a great use for lesser quality photos. For this tutorial I recreated a photo I edited and posted earlier. This tutorial was written using Photoshop CS2, but the gradient map and curves adjustments are included in several programs and program versions.
Step 1: Set-up Your Work
Open your photo in Photoshop. Then check your tool bar to make sure that you have black set for the foreground and white set for the background.
Step 2: Gradient Map
Go to Layer -> Adjustment Layer -> Gradient Map. I like to do this step first before making other adjustments. This allows you to make adjustments to layers below it and see an instant preview of what the image will look like in black and white. Using a gradient map will give you a clearer picture than if you desaturate the photograph.
Step 3: Adjustments
Make adjustments by adding layers BELOW the Gradient Map. You can do so by clicking on your background layer and then clicking on Layer -> Adjustment Layer and the adjustment you want to make. My most frequent one is curves which can be found at Layers -> New Adjustment Layer -> Curves. The image above shows the curve I used to add some contrast and depth.
Step 4: Basic Picture Finished
Call it done. Alternately, add text, a border, or anything else that strikes your fancy.