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Thomas Boudewijn's picture

FDL Technique (focused diffused lighting) Car Fine Art Photography

I fell in love with this lighting technique.

Like lightpainting u use multiple exposures and combine these in post.
But with lightpainting most of the time it's dark and you can use long exposures.

The FDL technique uses a very short shutterspeed like 1/250s.
This makes it possible to shoot FDL shots in bright daylight or for example a bright car showroom. It doesn't matter if it's day or night.
For lighting a speedlight or strobe is used. To diffuse the light I shoot through a diffuser panel. This gives a soft reflection on the car with a soft edge.

I am really curious about your work, tips, tricks, etc.
Please share your FDL Car Fine Art photos!

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Great shots. I've used FDL once, and to be honest, I forgot about it. I'll have to break out the speed light for another crack at it. :)

Yes, would love to see your shots

Seems like a nice technique. Any ressources for it? Can't seem to find much. Or is it just stopping down and using a strobe?

True, Not much around yet. The trick is to diffuse the light as much as possible so you get a really soft reflection.

You can do this by shooting a speedlight / strobe through a beauty dish with a milky perspex plate mounted to it and then use a handheld diffuser panel in front of this to get rid of the edges.

Hello! Were you shooting the speed light at 1/1 or at a lower power? Trying to figure this out and having some trouble! Thank you for your help!


Yes at full power. Try an f-number between f11-f16 and low iso. Love to see shots

Thomas Boudewijn Thanks for the info. I'm looking forward to testing the technique you suggest. I've tried using strip boxes, results were pretty good, but not where I'd like them to be, requires a great deal of post. Do you by chance have a photo of your setup?

Wow, great results! What I would try is to eliminate te hard edges of the softbox reflections. You can do this by diffusing the light even more. for example try to add an extra layer of diffusion.. Again, beautiful results!

Awesome effects, would love to no more about this technique

Thank you John. The trick is to diffuse the light as much as possible so you get a really soft reflection.

You can do this by shooting a speedlight / strobe through a beauty dish with a milky perspex plate mounted to it and a handheld diffuser panel or softbox in front of this to get rid of the edges. Also try not to shoot directly on the part of the car you would like to create a soft reflection and no edges. For example try to shoot alongside of the car top down. Love to see your shots

Hi Thomas, what diameter of beauty dish do you recommend for car shots? Where did you get the perspex plate from? Is this a usual accessory or something you made for yourself? Thank you for any help you can give!!!

and... do you recommend white or silver coating on the dish?

Hey Ralston, Just a standard beautydish or even a foldable softbox will do. The plate was custom made. Just try something out. There is not only one way to do this. Go for it! Trial and error.

I do not think there will be a big difference

Awesome shots! For the areas of absolute black behind the car, are you taking a shot in camera with the cap on and using it as a base layer or are you painting that all in post?

it's the fast shutterspeed that does the trick for you.

Really nice work! I'm gonna have to pick up a flash!

Hi, I found this technique very interesting and had to try it out for myself. I used it on an electric guitar with a shine surface. Not sure if I got it right, I admit that I am still struggling a bit with flash and studio photography.

Cool shot! Great effort! I think if you get the edges of the reflection softer the image will be even better. Maybe a bigger diffusion surface of an extra layer of diffusion will do the trick. Please share results.

got it better in this one, especially on the right side. it is true that the results are better the bigger the diffusor and the farther away the flash, without reducing too much the intensity of the flash. this one only for trial purposes, so I couldn't be bothered with cleaning the guitar properly ^^
PS: sorry for posting pictures of off-topic items

I don't mind the off topic shot. I can clearly see it's way better! Good job. Further away isn't always better though. Keep it up!

Hey Thomas I fell in love with these images immediately. I tried doing this with my godox 685f with a softbox at full power and f11. I didn't quite manage to get the background as black as you did or the finish as matt as on your images so i'm wondering what I need to work on. I shot four exposures and managed to get this image.

Your technique sounds fascinating, and certainly speaks for itself.

I like the way you used the negative space in your 1st image. Your photo is clean, interesting and has a lot of wow factor about it.

Sorry for replying to such an old post. Do you use a polarizer on these shoots as well???

Really love your work!
I tried today to make something like this, since I am under lockdown as most of you, but I found that the best result (to me) is to have two layers of diffusion: softbox ad a giant 2-meter long diffuser with 5 different exposures.
You clearly master this technique and your results are incredible, but thanks to you I know it!!

I've got the same car, literally here in lockdown practicing on it

Great shots, I'll definitely read more about the FDL technique