Clamping Flags in a Studio

Flags are opaque panels used to control the light falling on various parts of a image. They can be of different sizes or materials. I favour black foam core board, the kind available from hobby, craft & art stores as it's lightweight and relatively inexpensive.

Positioning flags is straightforward with the aid of light stands, booms and various clamps.

Clamping Flags

I have four types of clamps I use regularly (left to right above):

  • Manfrotto 175 Justin Clamp - not doubt the strongest jaws. Will clamp flags without movement.
  • A Clamps - these vary in strength and can be prone to slipping on round light stand riser.
  • Fold back clips - the kind of thing used to bind bundles of papers. They are of limited use for fixing flags to light stands, but are great for fixing Black Wrap/Cinefoil to soft boxes etc.

  • Manfrotto 375 Multiclip - better for hanging flags from booms vertically or for creating barn doors on lights, another form of flag controlling the light emitted primarily from open face reflectors.

To hold a board to a vertical riser will at least two A Clamps depending upon the size, weight and orientation of the flag.

The Manfrotto 375 Multiclip is best used for hanging flags. With experience and a selection of clamps you can decide what works best for you.

Of all the clamps the Manfrotto 175 Justin Clamp is the most versatile as it will clamp a board flag with ease due the large jaws.

A few of my clamps - there are more!
Clamps are one of the least expensive accessories you will need to buy for your photography. Buy more than you think you need and the chances are you'll still not have enough! I have dozens of clamps or varying types, some have seen over twenty years service.

Making a Simple Boom

Creating a boom for flags is simple, you don't need to use c-stands, any existing light stand can be adapted. All you need is a umbrella swivel adaptor and a length of 16mm (⅝") metal tube from a DIY store - I have varying lengths for use depending on space available and size of flag. ⅝" is the diameter of standard lighting spigots.

I have two type of umbrella swivel adaptors:

  • Manfrotto 026 Lite Tite Swivel Adaptor 
  • Kupo Tilting Umbrella Adaptor

The Manfrotto 026 is fine with light and smaller flags . . .

 . . . with larger flags I favour the Kupo Tilting Adaptor as it has a a soft metal washer gripped between toothed pressure plates which will take a 7ft umbrella without drooping.

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

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