Sunday, October 01, 2017

10 Questions for Jack Hykaway

This series is modeled after the "Interesting Railfan" series in Railroad magazine from years ago. I'm asking each railfan 10 questions, some standard and some customized for the particular person. I hope you enjoy it. (See all in the series)

I put 10 questions to Jack Hykaway, a young and very talented photographer and videographer based in Winnipeg.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, I am currently studying at the University of Manitoba in pursuit of a degree in Civil Engineering. Four weeks into my first year and I haven't yet been lost on campus -- only lost in Physics class... ;)

When I'm not at school, I'm probably at the rink. I am the skip of a competitive junior men's curling team; my team and I have competed as high as the provincial level, and we are determined to -- one day -- compete on the national stage. We curl in different tournaments nearly every weekend during the season to keep our game sharp -- it's a game of inches and competition is fierce in Manitoba.

2. Where’s your favourite place to railfan?

My favourite spots are all right at home here in Manitoba. We have so much variety in Winnipeg or within one-to-four hours driving distance from the city -- from the cliffs of the Canadian Shield in the east to the valleys and rolling hills out west. There's always something different and new to shoot, and the changing seasons put a new twist on old spots.
VIA 1 departs Rivers, Manitoba

3. If you could railfan anywhere, anytime, where and when would it be?

If I could go back in time, I'd love to shoot the final years of Southern Pacific's presence on the Sunset Route in California and Arizona. I've always had a soft spot for the SP's "bloody nose" paint scheme and it's tough to beat the high-desert's spectacular scenes.

4. What’s your favourite railway?

I don't really have a preference or a favourite carrier - so long as there's a train in front of my lens, I'm not picky! But if I had to choose it would probably be the BNSF -- they have a really sharp paint scheme.
BNSF 6127 pauses with an incredible watercolour sky in Emerson, Manitoba.

5. Photos or video?

Video. Definitely video. I've been intrigued by trains my whole life, but when I first began photographing them I jumped right in to shooting video. I'm not sure what it was that attracted me initially -- perhaps it was the ability to capture the sound and the movement of the train -- but I've stuck with video ever since, improving my shooting and editing skills along the way.

6. How is working for the Winnipeg Railway Museum?

One really couldn't ask for a better summer job! I've expanded my knowledge of the rich railway heritage on the prairies while simultaneously gaining valuable employment experience. I always enjoy "talking trains" with railfans from all corners of the country who visit the museum, exchanging trackside tales and directing them to the best spots around Winnipeg.

7. What makes your photographs different from other railfans?

My priority while out shooting isn't to capture only the train, but the scene through which it passes. I try to incorporate elements of the surrounding scene into the image, whether it be buildings, signs, people or scenic elements to add to the story depicted in the photograph.

Sometimes the focus of the image isn't on the train at all, but of something in the foreground while the train passes by in the background. Often times I will shoot a wider-angle to capture the whole scene, I feel that my work differs slightly to the "traditional" railfan photograph in that sense.
CN GMD1 No. 1405 chugs across the Seine River in Winnipeg, Manitoba

8. You were recently in the USA photographing trains. What did you find different about railfanning in the US?

One of the biggest differences I noticed is the sheer amount of business south of the border compared to in Canada. There is much more freight on the move in the US and therefore there is a much larger variety of operations there; from a nearly-endless array of shortlines/industrial jobs to several long-haul Class I carriers, railfans can pick and choose what they prefer to shoot.
A southbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service skirts the Pacific Ocean at Trestles Beach, California
With a different country comes a different culture and attitude around photography, especially in a post-9/11 era. For the most part, the US is pretty good; many cities feature established Railroad Parks. However, foreign visitors must always be extra cautious while shooting in the US -- obey all signs and regulations just as you would at home; no shot is worth a potential charge and a lengthy chat with a customs officer on the way home...

9. Can you provide one piece of advice for young railway photographers?

"Views" or "Likes" online don't matter. Take the advice of others, develop your own photographic style and keep building on that, no matter how people online react; it's your hobby, you can do with it what you please, as long as you are respectful to railroad employees and the "No Trespassing" signs. In short, do whatever is fun for you, and stick to that!

10. Do you have any projects you’re working on or planning for?

One big project on my plate at the moment is to work through and edit the footage I shot in California; I think I shot close to 150 GB of footage there -- there's lots to sift through! Some longer-term projects include doing more nighttime videography, I also have a vague plan in the works for an article I would like to have published in TRAINS Magazine.

CPR at Molson, Manitoba
Thanks, Jack! To see more of his work, visit his YouTube channel.

See all 10 Questions entries


Eric said...

Great to hear more of Jack's insight.

Having video or stills to choose from 'these days' is a definite advantage that wasn't always available to I'm not sure exactly how much 150 GB is, but I bet it's a lot more than the 4 to 6 24-exposure films I visited Manitoba with when I was Jack's young age.

Thanks for sharing this 10 Questions, Steve.

Patrice said...

Thanks for the interview wiht Jack. I'm a big admire of his work on You Tube. Honestly, from quality of his work, I thought that he was someone with a few more years under his belt. I look forward to seeing his future projects.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for your comment, Eric. 150 GB goes a long way with photos but not with 4K video! :)

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Patrice. He does phenomenal work on YouTube IMO.