This was taken in a studio using studio flash heads where it is usual to shoot in manual exposure mode.
Perhaps if I run through the over all process from start to finish it will give you an idea:
Firstly we create the set. This one is very simple, just a printed vinyl background of some very blurred out leaves and a stick which is held in place by a chemistry laboratory stand.
I have decided that I want to use an ISO of 100 to give a high picture quality. Setting up the lights to a low ISO also give me more options regarding changing my camera settings during the shoot if, for example, I want to get a greater depth of field it would be easy to change the camera to ISO 200 which would enable me to stop down tighter by a full stop, or ISO 400 which would give me 2 stops of aperture to play with. I can do those very quickly without moving from my comfortable chair! If I wanted to reset the lights instead, making them 2 stops brighter so I could stay at ISO 100 I would have to take more time setting up each light individually as you will see below.
Next is a matter of deciding what lighting to set up. In this case I want good coverage with minimal shadow, so we set up one light in front to the right and the other facing directly towards the end of the stick on the left.
I'll turn on one light and adjust the power reading off a flash meter until the light is giving me F8 at the point where the subject will be. Turn that light off and set up the other in the same way. The set and lighting are now complete and we are ready for the animal to be placed in position.
There is a slight delay as someone scrabbles across the floor trying to catch the animal. Repeat as necessary.
So, I have decided that ISO 100 is the way to go and that the lighting is set up to expose correctly at F8. That just leaves shutter speed. I know that the maximum flash synch speed is 1/250th of a second, so this is my maximum available shutter speed. However I also know that the flash units fire a burst of light that lasts approximately 1/800th of a second. This means that no matter what shutter speed I use up to 1/250th in actual fact the subject will only be lit for that 800th of a second. I usually choose 1/125th of a second as a nice general speed, although what ever speed you use the subject will still only be lit for an 800th. Sometimes in strong ambient light the shutter speed will have a small effect but in general I usually work in a darkish room.
At that point you are ready to go ... The nice thing about using studio lights is that once it's set up and you have checked your exposure is correct, the lighting remains constant so it becomes an exercise in just concentrating on the subject and pushing the button.
Hope that makes sense and answers your questions :)
My Weekend (18)