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11 April 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Photographing Over-sized Flags

Have you ever tried to photograph a flag that is rather large? Sure you could photograph it folded up, if it is an American flag and you fold it in such away that the stars show. But what happens if you have a color guard flag or a flag with a large white area? Hmmm... The folding thing isn't going to work.

Well, I'm no expert but the one thing I figured out is that large flags require height. They need to lay flat so that light can hit them directly and evenly and they can be smoothed out for viewing. When the sunlight streamed through my living room window with enough light to cover the entire flag, I set to work.

I placed this first flag on the white muslin is use for my seamless backdrop. I'll admit I should have pressed it before taking this photo. However, I was in a rush for the correct light and I set to it. I could use Photoshop to take out the background wrinkles. But I don't know if I should. I'm still debating that point.

Photographing memorabilia
Photographing large flags
For most flags, you CAN NOT IRON them to take the wrinkles out. You will burn or destroy the material, if not your iron. If you have a steamer, perhaps that might help. In any case, folded flags have wrinkles. Flags folded for a decade or longer have tough wrinkles. But let's pretended that it's character.

The above flag was used when I became the color guard captain for my high school marching band. I liked this ratty old thing like you wouldn't believe. I dreamed of being on the flag twirling line from the time I was in middle school watching my older brother at his marching band performances. He was on the drum line and I should have been so enamored with him. However, I loved the flag line. Perhaps it is because my mother was a baton twirler. (Check out the baton twirling themed scrapbook page I made about mom).

To take the photo, I had to stand on a chair with my tripod at it's highest configuration to snap the photo. Now I have a photograph to remember how much I loved twirling flags at my high school in Texas.

Heritage Photographs
Photographing University Flag

For those of you who may not know, my alma matter was Texas A&M University, the rival of the above college which shall remain nameless. Why on earth would my husband or I have such a flag in our home when he is also a devout Aggie? Well, because there is a story to go with it.

Out of respect for the story, perhaps I could have tried to remove more of the flag's wrinkles. But again, the material makes ironing not an option. And, I don't own a steam iron. Truthfully, I don't like this college (old rivalries die hard). Perhaps wrinkles are good, right?

Here is what I've learned about how to take great photographs of over-sized flags.
  • First, place the flag on a LOW flat surface, such as the floor. 
  • Use a white sheet to protect the flag and stop the floor from showing through the flag
  • Get into a REALLY high position in order to fit the entire flag into your camera's frame. You might have to stand on the living room table or a ladder if you have one. 
  • Your camera must be on a tripod to reduce blurry photos. Place the tripod on a table or other high flat surface and extend to it's highest setting. 
  • Snap photos when you have enough light. 
That's all I know. Hope it helps. If you have other tips, please feel free to share.

So... if you have a really large object like an over sized flag, take a photo of it and tell the story why you have such a thing. Perhaps the story behind the flag might be more sentimental than ours. But this story will help my children and grandchildren learn a lot about their parents on so many levels.

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