Thursday, January 25, 2007

Flying the flag

click photo to enlarge
An observant visitor to the UK is likely to notice the relatively small number of Union flags that are flown. Compared with, say, France or the United States, our flag is all but invisible. Every now and then UK writers comment on this, and periodically politicians and nationalists try to stimulate the flying of more flags. But without much success.

Why is this? It's probably something to do with the United Kingdom being a collective of four separate countries, each with its own distinctive history, language and culture. In Scotland the cross of St Andrew seems to be flown more than formerly, perhaps reflecting its growing nationalism, whilst in Wales that country's flag flies fairly widely. Northern Ireland goes its own way, and tends to display three flags - the Union flag, the flag of Northern Ireland, and the tricolour of the Irish Repubic - depending on political persuasion! And England is simple confused. It's forgivable that people from other countries confuse the Union flag with the flag of England, but it's unfortunate when native English people do the same. Many do fly the cross of St George, but it's done with markedly less fervour than the people of the other constituent countries of the UK fly theirs.

So, when a Union flag is flown it tends to be noticed. This flag on the 1930s Casino building on Blackpool's promenade grabbed my attention immediately, and I decided to make it the focal point of an image. I have photographed the architect Joseph Emberton's Modernist masterpiece before, but this time I decided to be selective and show some of its white reinforced concrete curves against the deep blue of the January sky, enlivened by the red of the decrative wheel and that high flying flag. A zoom lens at 48mm (35mm equivalent) was used, with the camera set to Aperture Priority (f8 at 1/400 second), with the ISO at 100 and -0.7EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen