Although it may not be immediately apparent, this image also has quite a bit of processing behind it. The B&W conversion was done in NIK Silver Efex Pro-2, which has lots of options and seems to be something of a standard for “serious” B&W photographers (whatever that is). There is lots of tweaking and fiddling possible within this product and plenty was done in this case.
I fooled around quite a while with this study, trying different lenses and lighting options. First I did a whole series with natural light, which was OK, but it forced me to use very wide apertures that produced a thinner DoF than I liked. Then I pulled out one of my speedlights and started working with that. I put a very narrow grid on the flash-head to insure a sharp light fall-off because I wanted a hard dramatic effect. The fill light (such as it is) was just a reflection from the white tee-shirt I was wearing. I really like the soft, smooth result that it produced in the band contrasting with the hard high-contrast light elsewhere. As is typical for my strobist work, both light-source and camera were in manual mode. I find that at the cost of a couple of test shots you can get a much more controlled result when everything is in manual mode. The speedlight, a Canon 580EX-II was on a tripod about 3-ft away at 11:00 set for 1/16th-power. I knew that this would produce a lot of light, so I set the ISO for 200 and found the exposure that I wanted at f11. I have a few different macro setups, but what I used here was a Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (a decent lens for a reasonable amount of money) plus a 12mm extension-tube. The flash was fired with an inexpensive Cactus-V4 radio-trigger (highly recommended).
This study was done as part of an on-going “alphabet project” where I shoot one letter of the alphabet at a time in sequence. I actually haven’t done one of these for about a year, but I was looking for an excuse to use the camera, so I picked it up again. I have no idea what I’m going to do for the next letter, though.