You can learn a lot about black and white photography using your favourite photo editing program as most have tools for converting from colour to black and white.
Avoid the adjustments that do the work for you such as by choosing Image > Mode > Grayscale as you won’t be able to make any creative changes to the image.
Instead, in Photoshop Elements, choose Enhance > Convert to Black and White and experiment with the sliders and options. There are different options down the left of the screen to select from and you can then adjust the red, green and blue sliders to fine tune the result.
In Photoshop, choose Layers > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White and adjust the sliders for the colors – this lets you control how the colours are converted to either black or white. In this way you can separate colors like Green and Red for example making them significantly different to what they would look if you do a regular conversion.
For more information on making a detailed colour to black and white conversion in Photoshop Elements visit this blog post: An Adjustable Black and White conversion http://projectwoman.com/2009/08/an-adjustable-black-and-white-conversion.html
In Lightroom and in Adobe Camera Raw you can convert to black and white and then adjust the color sliders to create a good looking black and white image.