The second example above was shot with flash. With a Canon Speedlight 580exII to be precise. The flash was on a Manfrotto 001B (nano) stand with a shoot through white umbrella in a reasonably well lit room. I was working with a pair of Canon EOS5D MkII bodies and this one had my 85mm f1.8 lens on it. This lens focuses very quickly and so I left it on single frame auto focus with the focusing point selected to give me the right composition.
The available light exposure at f1.8 would have been about 1/45th of a second at f1.8 on 400 ISO and so I set the camera at 1/125th at f2 to make sure that it was mainly flash that gave me the image. The beauty of working with a speedlight is that you can dial the output right down and so I played about with manual settings, finally going for 1/16th power with the umbrella only a metre (40") from her face, slightly above and to her left of her eyeline.
The magazine that the picture was shot for runs in colour but I often add a mono version of one or two of my favourite images so that they have the choice. Occasionally it just reminds designers that a strong black and white image printed in four colour on good quality paper can have a big impact.
I have just been back through the RAW (CR2) files for this job and counted my hit rate of getting the focus exactly right. I reckon that I have about 40% spot on and another 10% just about usable from this shallow depth of field section. Of course I shot a whole range of other images and so I am covered if shallow depth isn't what the designer is looking for.
© Neil Turner February 2009