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Dereck's Rail Pics

The Man Behind The Camera

About Me

     Hi, I'm the guy behind the camera and this web page. My name is Dereck and I like long walks beside the tracks, lazy summer nights just sitting around on St. Anthony Parkway bridge over Northtown listening to the trim jobs, watching the Empire Builder cruse into St. Paul just after sunrise....ok, ok, I'll be serious.
     I am currently 19 years old, and hail from NE Iowa. I was born on March 30, 1987 (30 years late in my opinion) and have lived in at least 3 towns. My favorite road is the Burlington Northern, and I am also very partial to the Illinois Central's SD40-2s and SD70s and Milwaukee Road in its later years (1960 to the end). The great Twin Cities area shortline Progressive Rail has recently caught my attention, I think it's great how historically minded they are. I am unhappy with how the whole BN-ATSF merger went, and for a while refused to shoot anything BNSF, but only until I realized that most of the BNSF is ex-BN anyway. So now I shoot any and all BNSF (hey, I think their DASH 9s look better in the artsy-fartsy pics I take then almost anything the UP has, with the exception of the '90MACs, the '40-2s, and the little GP15-1s. BTW, how many freakin' SD70Ms do they have? good god...).
     I love to write and shoot, and have been published twice. The first time was in the April 2003 issue of "The Expediter," which is the quarterly publication of the Friends Of The Burlington Northern Railroad (the BN historical socioty). The second time was in the June (?) 2004 issue of Mainline Modeler, and it is a photo I shot of a BN woodchip car at Northtown a year before.
My Equipment
     I currently shoot with a Cannon Rebel Ti [2/9/05: I now use a T2, see below]. It's a beginers SLR, so it has the fully automatic features, but can also be completely controlled manually, which is what I like beacause it's my first SLR so I don't know how to really use it, but when I'm good enough to do it manually I can. I bought the body the first day back from Christmas Vacation this year (January 5, 2004). I bought only the body at that time because I was told that the kit lense was HORRIBLE, that was all I had money for at the time, and I was told (wrongly) that the camera was on sale for $100 less. Well, they were actually quoting the price for the Rebel GII, but after the day I had had, I was going home with a camera.
     My only lense is a Cannon EF 50mm f1.8 II lense with a close focus to 1.5 ft. I had called the other camera store (not the one I bought the body from, see if I ever go back there again) to see if they had any copies of the lense in. They said that they usually do have a few, but because of the popularity of the recently released Digitol Rebel they didn't, but if I gave my name and phone # they would order it for me. I did and they said that they would call me when it came in.
     A month later I hadn't heard from them so I called 'em to see what was going on. They said that Cannon had discontinued the lense, but they had some on back order so to call back in a few weeks. I called the 1st week of the month for the next 4 months before they had some. I picked mine up on our way home from railfanning East Dubuque on May 1st, 2004.
     On June 9, 2004, I bought the BP-220 battery pack which is specially designed for the Ti. I got it because my lithium batteries were getting low and my camera wasn't working properly, which I attributed to the batteries. I took it in with me when I picked up the battery pack. They guy looked at it, cleaned the electrical contacts, said the batteries were still good and didn't know what the problem was. I got home, remembered I had the lense off of it for some reason the night before, and so I took the lense off and put it back on. Camera worked fine. Electrical contacts on the lense must have not lined up properly when I put it back on the night before, The batteries did die while in the Cities that weekend, so I was glad I had the battery pack.
     I use a Radio Shack PRO-89 Race Scanner that I bought my self for my 16th birthday. It has 200 channels, a weather band, and other goodies that I haven't quite figured out yet. It is a nice size: small and hand held My channels above 100 are all AAR frequencies in order, so when the IANR crew told me they would be on UP's freq which was 71 until they left the yard during my story TUNNEL MOTORS, I just turned the scanner to 171. I use a Radio Shack magnetic atenna for my scanner, which my neighbor (who's a nice guy and works there too), helped me pick out. I am thinking about buying a base scanner to mount in the truck, and getting an antenna that is specially designed for the 160.000-161.000 range to use with it. I hear they are absolutely wonderful.
     I drive a '95 Dodge Dakota, navy blue, with a lot of railroad bumper stickers. It's my Dad's old truck, we've had it sence we leased it brand new. Now Dad has a RAV 4 and I drive the truck. It had 117,500 miles on it when I got it in April of '03, and currently (6/30/04) has 128,700 on it. I get around.
     I use a 68" tripod that can be compressed into about 24" that my aunt gave me for my 16th birthday. She got it at Wal-Mart. It has it's faults, but has for the most part served me well. Now that I got my SLR, I need to get another tripod, probibly a really good one from the camera store.
     I shoot Fuji Superia 400 speed film as exclusively as I can. I was brought up using Fuji 400, and I think it is fine. Wal-Mart has 5 packs for only 6 1/2 bucks. I have tested Kodak 400, but haven't noticed a difference yet. I used to shoot 800 speed film, but it didn't seem to make much difference then 400.
     My old camera was my Dad's old point and shoot. We've had it for as long as I can remember. It is a Maxima 25 with a Samsung focus free 35mm F4.5 lense. The old work horse has been very good to me. I used it for the first time in March 2002 when BN hoppers started showing up in town again. Dad said to just keep it because he didn't really use it anymore. It finially bit the dust in Savanna on 12/26/03, in the middle of a railfanning trip.
     On the way home from that trip, I stopped at Wal-Mart and picked up a Vivitar T301 point and shoot. And that's the only information that is on the camera. I used it until the May 1st, 2004 trip to East Dubuque, which I picked up my lense from the camera store for my SLR on the way home. It now serves as a back up camera, for if my Ti fails for some reason, or (what happens a lot) I need to use a camera, but am reloading film in the Ti.
     That's pretty much it for my equipment. I have a Case Logic case I bought for my camcorder while in Rochester, MN, and have no case at the moment for the Ti. As soon as I get some extra cash I will buy one. I also want to get a photographers vest so I can stop using the portable CD player case to hold my extra film and batteries in the field, for it looks a lot like a purse. But at around $60 a piece, I don't think that will happen anytime soon. The purse is fine for now. Other photography purchases I will be making sometime soon are a telephoto lense, and as I said above, another tripod, scanner, and scanner antenna.
     ADDED 8/20/04: I bought a case for the Ti, has loads of places to put things so I don't need a vest at the moment. NO MORE PURSE!!!
     11/30/04: Bought a string to attach the lens cap to the lens so that I don't keep forgeting where I put the cap. Also picked up a shutter release cord so that I don't have to use the self timer mode on the camera when I am shooting longer exposures from a tripod.
     2/9/05: Bought two new lenses today, a Tamron 28-80mm and a Tamron 70-300mm. They were on sale together and I need a larger telephoto for the spring break trip and a medium range zoom for portraits that I should start thinking about doing. I know, I know, off brand stuff isn't that great, but I had heard a lot of good things about Tamron's 70-300 and the 28-80 was 75% off if you buy them together and I need a portrait lense. I'm not that impressed by the 28-80, but I plan on buying a Canon 28-105 as a standard lense so the 28-80 will be replaced eventually anyway.

"You had your chance to walk away, live to see another day. If you wanna step up, you're gonna get knocked down." -Drowning Pool "Step Up"