Portrait Photography: How to use a Flag

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: April 3, 2020

Category: Photography | Tutorial

Yesterday evening (8pm UK) I hosted a YouTube LIVE Broadcast taking folks through some extra content that was captured at the end of filming my Timeless Tutorial.

It was fantastic to see so many people tune in LIVE; a total of 503 at one point, and also to see the chat room so active with people wishing each other well, asking questions etc…

In addition to going through some retouching, the main focus of the webinar was to show how to use a flag in photography to give added control of your lighting. The main lighting set up shown was that which I go through in Timeless but with the addition of one extra flash, which again was a simple 4xAA Battery Speedlightand in a Westcott Rapid Box Switch Medium Octoa positioned camera left  and behind / side of the model Sophie:

The lighting set up above with the flagf positioned to control how muchof the light positioned to the side and slightly behind Sofie actually hit her and was the exact same set up used for the pictures below (Sophie on the left and one of my best friend, Anthony Crothers on the right)

Positioning the Flag

Now when it comes to positionin the flag so that you control exactly where the light does and doesn’t land, it’s definitely made easier if you happen to be using a light that includes a modelling light because then it’s just a case of what you see is what you get; where the modelling light falls is where the main flash will fall.

However when using a flag with speedlights it can take quite a few adjustments to get the position exactly right, but here’s something to also consider regardless of the kind of light / flash you are using…

The lighting diagram below illustrates that if the flag you are using is positioned too close to the light source / modifier it then has the space to spread and consequently you lose control of the light.

However, the lighting diagram below illuatrates that by moving the flag away from the light source and closer to your subject the light that isn’t blocked by the flag doesn’t have the space to spread, which ultimately means you have much more control of it.

Does that make sense?

I explain this in more detail in the video below which is a re-run / recording of the actual webinar so feel free to check that out AND all the retouching I went through.

There’s also a video I put together with the help of my amazing friends (Ian Munro, Brian Dukes, Anthony Crothers, Steve Deaking, Gerwyn Williams, Tom Schaffer and Ian Parsons) that is for a fund raising goal I have to raise £50,000 for the Veterans Charity and the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. Timing isn’t great I guess with all that’s going on at the moment with the COVID-19 Virus however, more than ever Veterans who were going through hard times before this hit need us more than ever. Please do take a look at the video and next week I’m going to release a full explanation of the video and all the what, why, when, how.

Keep well and keep safe,

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