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Photographing Flags & Banners

Updated on October 8, 2013
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

What flutters in the wind? Leaves, ropes, flags and banners. Well this particular project is one of those that has you get crafty and use your imagination.

First thing that you should do is secure several yards of either colored cloth, and the thinner the better, much like the material used for making flags or plain white ones and manually color them with any of the many clothing coloring additives currently available at most markets and arts & crafts supply stores.

Silk is excellent for this project since it takes coloration well, is shinny and flutters with the sightless of breeze although a drawback can be its cost.

For this project long thin rectangles, like streamers, work best. Their shapes are usually very good in creating undulations as they flutter with even the slightest breeze. The material should be cloth not vinyl or paper.

Vinyl is too reflective and paper ones are too fragile. Cloth streamers are ideally suited for the shoot but try to get ones that are wider than the average store bought ones. It is often better to buy cloth and cut your own shapes.

You will also need some supports on which to hang your cloths such as PVC pipes, string and a large fan or conduct the project during a windy day. Once you have all of your colored cloth or have colored whites ones in various colors such as pastels, then you should proceed to cut them in long, thin rectangles shapes or as an alternative squares, rectangles, and diamond shapes.

The idea is to string your banners in close formations, have them flutter in the wind and record their images. The finished images should appear to be a mass of colored banners all flapping in the wind. The point is to overwhelm the senses with a variety of colors. Care should also be taken not to include the support or the fan or anything besides the banners themselves in the photos.

Group them in groups that are close together but not in one single order. They should be positioned in an irregular grouping some lower that others, and some longer than others.

If using a fan to create wind movement, position it so that it is directly behind the banners and directs the wind flow in one direction so that your subjects flow in one main angle.

The final images should appear to be much like an abstract image; a grouping of colors, distinguishable as "flags" but as if they were just floating on air.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

Once everything is assembled take several test shots to ensure that the images are what you intended them to be.

Go in close with your lens and focus on the general undulations but the key is to include many such shapes but with a close cropping. Remember you do not want to include the supports.

One good technique is to arrange the banners so that they float on their "backs"; lay in the ground directly below them and record the images. In other words; as if you were underneath a large banner while is is being held above you.

For a more creative approach, add a lights set up below the banners and photograph them from below while laying flat against the ground. However this is better done at dusk or night.

This adds pleasing highlights to the entire composition. Just try not to use a very potent light source since you do not want to overwhelm the color hues of the banners/flags.

If buying cloth, making the holding platforms and so on does not appeal to you, then there are always plenty of banners and flags all over the place that you can use as substitutes for your home made ones. With found subjects it is better to photograph a groping with a good zoom lens and crop tightly.

The emphasis is the color groupings and the overwhelming color saturation created by such.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Perry the Cat: I have a hub involving steel wool which you may find interesting.

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 5 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      We live in the Texas Panhandle where the wind often blows 30 mph gusting to 60. Got any ideas that involve knitting steel wool?

    • Denver5280Click profile image

      Denver5280Click 5 years ago from Denver Colorado

      Looks like a cool art project for someone that really loves the wind! Good luck to you :-)

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 5 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      sounds interesting,I like different colored flags and banners fluttering in wind. intersting hub.

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 5 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Petaluma, California is having a river festival in July and they will be looking for floating sculptures for the ten day event. Each sculpture will have 100 square feet of surface area to float in and must be anchored. Rules and contacts are located here:

      Good luck!


    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

      Great points as usual. I love flags, my problem is I can never figure out a cool angle to get them.