A subject with dark shadows and bright highlights is not always ideal for a color photograph. In fact, it's one of the reasons techniques like HDR have become so popular. Yet, for black and white photography, this type of high-contrast light can be extremely effective. The harsh mid-afternoon sun ☀ is no longer a detriment, but an enhancement.
This is a major shift in the way one thinks about exposure. To help recognize these chances, look beyond what is immediately evident and pre-visualize the scene in grayscale. 📷 An image you passed on in color may prove quite dramatic in black and white.
As is always the case in good art, rules are meant to be broken. The same is true with black and white exposures. You have even more flexibility as shadows can be inky black, and highlights can clip the histogram while retaining their visual appeal. To maximize the dynamic range of the camera, use the ETTR technique (expose to the right). Rather than a muddy exposure, you'll enjoy the crisp contrast of the full tonal range.