How to Modify Photo Lighting with Flags, Nets, and Silks

Flags and nets aren’t just for use outdoors. They can be indispensable tools for just about any studio photographer. When used correctly, flags can shape, manipulate, and direct light with the utmost precision. So tune in and start taking notes as photographer Jay P. Morgan goes over the basics of these underutilized tools:

There are three types of flags a photographer can use. Solid flags cut light completely from a source. Net flags, on the other hand, will only cut out one or two stops without actually changing the quality of the light itself. Lastly, silk flags will not cut down any significant amount of light, but they will make the light a bit softer.

There’s a time and a place for each of the three flags, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In Morgan’s demo, he utilizes a flag a small as 18×24″. He also shows off a 48×48″ flag capable of expanding out to a whopping eight feet in length!

Depending on how you position your equipment, you can use a flag (or multiple flags) to subtract light from a scene. In a controlled studio setting, they’re able to create shadows and patterns, and they generally make light more captivating.

flags nets and silks

Flags—in particular, solid and net flags—can be especially helpful for differentiating between elements. For instance, Morgan demonstrates just how a well-placed flag can bring down the exposure of a backdrop without impacting the light falling onto his model’s face. If you’re working with a subject that’s in danger of blending in with their surroundings, a flag on-set can make an enormous difference.

modifying light with flags

Furthermore, net flags can bring down select bright areas without impacting the exposure of your entire image. This allows photographers to fine-tune their shots in-camera and create more authentic, professional-looking results.

how to use flags in photography

Although they bear similarities to commonplace reflectors, flags are a surprisingly underutilized tool among everyday photographers. But, just about every person who gets their hand on one can’t get enough of it. So consider investing in one of these simple, yet powerful tools for your photographic arsenal if you’d like to elevate your images in an instant.

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One response to “How to Modify Photo Lighting with Flags, Nets, and Silks”

  1. Stan says:

    Congratulations to Kseniya for sitting so stoically throughout your babbling. By the way, are you sure you were pronouncing her name correctly?

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