The tooth fairy is a magical creature that comes at night to exchange the lost baby teeth of children with money or presents. The tooth fairy is a nice and gentle creature.

But not this tooth fairy. This bike is a heavily modified Suzuki GSX-R 750, and the job was so well done you don’t recognise its origins. The bike is called “Zahnfee”, which is the German name for the tooth fairy. Ingo, the proud owner, built it between two bike seasons together with his twelve (!) year old son.

20160714-Zahnfee-001   20160714-Zahnfee-003
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We shot the images under a railroad bridge, see below. The bike was placed on the sidewalk, flanked by two flashes on tripods. I stood on the left side of the road, shooting across. Since we were using flashes on a public road I had to wait until no car was in sight before I could take an exposure, otherwise the flash would pose a danger to car drivers passing by. But since we shot in the evening hours not much traffic was coming through and we could work without major breaks.

In order to achieve another lighting result, I decided to switch off the flashes. This would bring out the bike’s onboard lighting. I gave Ingo a LED flashlight to lightpaint the side of the bike during the exposure. The image below was taken in 8 s, f/5.6 and ISO 100.

One of the mistakes I learned to avoid is to stay at one location for too long. Once a lighting setup is working one is inclined to stay with it (Never change a running system…). But this will result in dozens and dozens of similar looking shots. In order to avoid this one has to relocate. Sometimes getting another perspective will suffice – just shoot in the other direction. But obviously this was not an option in our case, so we moved on about 500 m to an old industrial complex.


We first set up the bike approx. 6 m from the wall with the above mentioned two umbrella-setup. The lighting result was okay-ish but not to my complete satisfaction, see above. The background was too dark as the flashes could not illuminate the environment sufficiently.

So we moved the bike closer to the brick wall. A stack of old tyres came in handy as a prop. Here is the setup:


20160714-Zahnfee-022The tube with the green stuff is engine coolant. Ingo tailor-made it for his bike. The tube is lit from the inside, producing an eerie glow.

Last but not least we moved to a gas station for a last few shots. I used the 14-24 mm wide angle lens as I wanted to get the roof to frame the bike. Unfortunately, the yellow rim of the roof was not illuminated, which would have given a nice frame. I asked the lady at the counter if she could switch it on for about ten minutes, but she refused. I am not sure whether she did not know how to switch it on or if she just didn’t want to, but judging by her reaction I tend to believe the latter. Okay, sometimes asking politely will result in a no.

I nevertheless like the shot.