Sunday, May 27, 2012

Flags at Night

It’s Memorial Day weekend. In my small Midwestern town, there’s a region of the city cemetery dedicated to veterans. On Memorial Day they raise 50 flags on display, and also decorate the gravestones with small flags. It’s quite beautiful. They leave the flags up till Veteran’s Day in September, so they remain all summer long. Many years in the past, I've gone over there to meditate for awhile, and make images of the multiple flags.

Last night I started making images a half hour after sunset. Most exposures were between 2 and 6 seconds long, with the camera on a tripod. Flags were illuminated by a hand-held flash unit.

This is a basic night photography technique: put the camera on the tripod for a long exposure, then walk around with a hand-held flash unit, popping it off several times during the long exposure. It allows for multiple exposures and several different angles of illumination. I've done this technique with people as well as objects, so you get multiple portraits of the same person within one image.

It was a warm night after several hot days, some strong thunderstorms in the afternoon, and in the evening fitful winds that come and go.

Sometimes the flags flapping in the breeze reveal the crescent moon behind them. Later in the dark, the moon is bright enough to show right through the fabric.

Adjustable flash unit set on low-power, so you can do multiple flashes in sequence. On high-power settings you might only get one bright flash before the unit has recharged, before the exposure is done.

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