About David Maciulaitis - Railway Photographer
In the beginning:
I remember one Christmas, going down to the train room, and Santa has left a new engine and wagons, and this was to continue for a long, time Santa always knew what I was after.
My first ever steam train ride was at Shantytown, I was taken out there with my grandparents in the summer of 1989, Climax 1203 was operating at the time, and I was terrified of this machine, little did I know that this would be the first engine I was to be trained on when I started at Shantytown as a boy, playing trains in 2001, more on this later. The video of the train shows that I held the train up, tooing and froing as to whether I wanted a cab ride or not, I wasn't with an adult of my own, just the driver and a cab full of kids riding back down to Shantytown. This could well be the reason I have taken a fancy to Climax's?
May 1993 was a turning point for me, as a very young railfan, I was 10 years old, I was given my first camera, a Kodak 126, cartridge film camera. The subject was the Cadbury Crunchie train, hauled by Ka 945, with DSC 2652 on the rear. I wound off a whole roll of film that morning. And yes I still have the photos somewhere, when / if they are found I'll scan them. Later in September 1993 I went on my first Railfan trip it was a one way ticket from Greymouth to Moana behind J 1234. Then for nearly 7 years I didn't ride railfan trips but photographed them from the roadside, which is where you get the best photos I think! The first trip after the lull was in April 2000 from Wellington to Wanganui and return behind Ja 1271, this trip rekindled my passion for riding the rails behind steam. Since then I have ridden many trains round NZ, enjoying every moment of it.
Although the trip behind 1271 may have rekindled my interest in riding the rails, its more about the company on board
the train than the actual destination itself. As long as you have good company, and a good train crew then it'll always be a good trip
no matter what happens. A little secret I'll let you into is that, I actually prefer not to ride trains, but photograph them from the
road! - I know shock horror! But that's not to say that I don't contribute to the excursion operator's expenses.
Thanks to the good people from mums insurance they fixed my up with a 1975 Pentax KX, a really good robust camera, I have inadvertently tested the robustness a few times. So most of the photos on this site were taken with both these cameras. In February 2006 I purchased a new camera, this is a Minolta Dynax, and has a 28-80mm & 80-30mm lenses I trailed this camera on a trip to the North Island and put through 12 rolls of film. Then later on in March I rolled off 7 rolls of film in 2 days at the Burrell Rally, which had a Burrell Scenic Showman's Engine from the UK.
After some teething troubles with the Minolta, it turned out to be a fine camera. The fitting of some filters, and the issues I had were halved. I still used the camera on manual, take a light reading on auto, then flick to manual and put in the reading, that way it can't get confused with too much sky, which was the main problem.
April 2008 was a turning point, digital was finally grasped with open arms, after another batch of poorly processed film
a Sony Alpha 100 was purchased 2nd hand, and her first trial trip was to Ashburton to photograph Ja 1260 at her first public steaming.
After taking 300 or so shots all appears to be well, it’s easy to use, and takes marvelous pictures. Now over 18 months on the Sony
Alpha continues to give great service. It’s taken over 10000 images since I brought it. A great camera - rarely do things go wrong,
it has the odd time had focus issues, and when the damn Polarised filter is used the end results can vary. But apart form that I am
really, pleased with the camera. I know that when I eventually require a new camera Sony will be the brand I choose!
I like seeing trains how they are meant to be seen, from out in a paddock, on the road, and watching and photographing them, you can't recreate the past, but its enjoyable taking photos of trains at work in New Zealand, and more recently Australia. There is something about a steam train, they smell, look, and are generally all the same, but railfan's flock to them, I know because I'm one of them. Long live the steam train, in the land of the long black cloud!
Along with trains I have a love of all things steam, be it a traction engine threshing wheat, a steam tug taking people
on a harbour cruise, to a stationary engine compressing ammonia I am interested in it. I have been known to spend days on rally grounds
soaking up the atmosphere and taking photos, also getting covered in soot and holes burnt into my clothes, but who cares.
Thanks and Alike