About David Maciulaitis - Railway Photographer

In the beginning:L 509 @ Ohakune - August 2008
Born in Greymouth in May of 1983 - yeah I'm getting old aren't I? As a baby mum use to take me up in my push chair up to watch the trains going to and from the coal mine of Rewanui. After this line closed she took my brother, then in the push chair, and myself then walking I suppose, to the other line to watch coal trains to and from Rapahoe, so started my affection of trains. I always had train toys, books and stuff, some of the train books read to me by my mum are still in my collection, and they are well read.

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.

Since the early Kodak 126 camera I have had a few others, mainly point and shoot models, but the big break came with he first SLR I brought in 2000, I think. It was a Yashica FX3, it was a damn good camera, and I was very happy with this piece of equipment. Sadly due to a train running late and a crossing not taking place the camera was destroyed. Yes I put the camera on the roof of the car to wait for the train, and when it didn't come I took off with my family, it wasn't till we were nearly home that I realised that my camera had been left on the roof, back at the scene of the incident the camera was laying on the road, a bit beaten up and generally stuffed. I am planning on erecting a white cross in memory of the camera at some point.

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!

Interests & WorkAb 663 - Pukerangi, cab riding - October 2009
Well I haven't met a train I didn't like, my main passion is trains in general, I like all, steam, diesel, electric and of course railcars. Since May 2001 I have been at Shantytown, firstly as a boy volunteer, who wanted to learn how to drive the trains there. And on 21 December 2003 I gained the first part of this dream. Then on the 28 February 2006 I gained my engine drivers ticket. Currently I work at Shantytown, doing Gold Panning, selling lollies to adults and beer to children (Might be other way round), and generally doing as I'm told by my bosses.

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.

Model Railways
I, like most railfan’s have a model railway, started with a mixture of US and Hornby stuff on a layout built for me, then later on moved to Sn3.5 (NZR), this lasted for a while until I stumbled across the Bachmann website, they had this thing called On30 (what?), yep On30, O scale equipment running on HO track, making it a prototypical 2' 6" railway. That's all very well I thought, so continued, well the model Climax was beautiful to say the least, I just had to have multiple Climax's so now I have 2 of them for use on the Midland Saw Milling Line. My railways fictitious purpose is to be a coal carrier loosely based on the Charming Creek Coal Mine, north of Westport; so after falling in love with the Krauss engines in Tasmania I brought one of these in kit set form, its on my to do list (Good thing its on a roll of bog roll!) Currently I have too many locos, and about 20 items of rolling stock, included in this is log wagons, coal hoppers for the mine, gondolas, and a tank wagons. Locomotives comprise of 2 x 2-6-0's (NZRised), 2 x 0-4-0 diesel mechanical's, 2 x Climax's, 2 x 2-8-0's by Bachmann, 2 x 2-4-4T's and a 2nd hand C-16 2-8-0, which has had a NZR type tender added, and modifications to make it more of a NZ type of machine.

Thanks and Alike
Thanks go out to the following people:
• Mother - without her I wouldn't be here, also thanks for all the trips you have financed, and taken me.
• Paul - well he's my brother, we share a love of trains and machinery, without Paul's explanations and alike I'd look like an utter idiot in some situations.
• Fellow staff members at Shantytown for listening, answering all manner of questions, sharing your knowledge with others, and allowing 2 knowledge hungry railfan's into your work place to play, and learn. (You know who you are!)
• And finally all the railway people I have met in NZ and Australia who have welcomed me into their cabs, smoko rooms, workshops and railways.

Thank you all

David Maciulaitis

aka David Match & St. David - Keeper of Numbers


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