That shot is now a poster hanging in the tat artist's studio, we all like how well it showed up.
What did you use as the backdrop?
"Sandstorms inflict damage of about $540 million per year, and losses of crops and forests due to acid rain amount to about $730 million per year. More serious are the $6 billion costs of the "green wall" of trees being built to shield Beijing against sand and dust, and the $7 billion per year of losses created by pest species. We enter the zone of impressive numbers when we consider the onetime cost of the 1996 floods ($27 billion, but still cheaper than the 1998 floods), the annual direct losses due to desertification ($42 billion), and the annual losses due to water and air pollution ($54 billion). The combination of the latter two items alone costs China the equivalent of 14% of its GDP each year." - Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
The backdrop was just a big green muslin I had hanging in my kitchen. Knowing how light works (the inverse square law can be your friend) you can use light power, exposure, and distance (light to subject, subject to backdrop, and camera to subject/backdrop) to your advantage. I could make a completely white backdrop black using these principles.
If you don't quite get it right Photoshop masks are your next best friend. Trying to recall here, I think I actually did mask and paint/burn out any little hints of background after getting exposure correct for the subject. This will be more or less necessary depending on how much space you have to work with, and your mix of flash and ambient with regard to your aperture and shutter speed.
I was working on a story for our outdoor section about a retriever club's annual European Style hunt. What that entails is having a few teenagers on a 50-ft lift with crates of pheasants. They release them one at a time and the hunters on the ground wait for them to fly towards them and shoot. The ones that they miss they hunt on the ground using their dogs.
So I was in the lift with my camera on a monopod with a release cable. I zone focused on the pheasant and shot from behind them as they were released, trying to get the hunter and prey in the same shot. I only got this and one other after several hundreds of frames. Occasionally the hunters shot early and we got scattered with bird shot.
Technically speaking I used a Nikon digital camera-D1H I think. The lens is a 17-35 mm f/2.8 Nikkor set at 17mm. I set the shutter speed to show a little motion in the wings- around 1/125.
Nice bunch of guys. This style of "hunting" isn't my thing, but to each his own. They have a big banquet with their wives and have a big time.