Rail & Sail Father & Son Photography Team

Destination Duluth
Photographer Profile Series

David and Son Gus Schauer - A Passion for Rail and Sail Pictures

DM&IR SD18 No. 193 leads the 3 PM Duluth Zephyr back to Union Depot (North Shore Scenic Railroad) after a trip to Lakeside. Soo Line caboose No. 1 was added for a nice touch. Rail and sail in true U.S. Steel fashion. June 4, 2022. - By David Schauer

Born and raised in Duluth, photographer David Schauer recalls, “My childhood home was in the upper Endion neighborhood where I could see Lake Superior and watch boats coming and going from Duluth and Superior. That, plus hearing train horns at night, influenced my desire to photograph shipping and railroads.”

David Schauer aboard the Minneapolis - St. Paul navy ship during the week of its commissioning in May, 2022. Photo by Adam Bjornberg

Through the family’s picture window, he would watch the ships on the Lake and started to be able to recognize them and to remember their names.  His first photograph of a boat was made in April 1978, as the tug Edna G docked in Two Harbors with the Arthur M. Anderson behind it.

Schauer and his family now live in the Smithville neighborhood in western Duluth. He and his wife Laura and have three teenage children; twin daughters Tessa and Greta and son Gus. Their daughters are graduating from Denfeld High School this year and Gus is a sophomore.

Schauer’s son Gus is starting to follow his father’s passion for photography. “One of my great joys of photography is having my son Gus join me in capturing images and teaching him what I have learned over the years. I’m very proud of his work and his ability to understand the art of photography.“

Photo by David Schauer

He explained, “I first began photography in the late 1970s after being encouraged by my parents and friends. I became more interested after taking photography classes in high school and at UMD. I have been a serious amateur photographer since the early 1980s.”

He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota Duluth with concentrations in finance and marketing. David is self-employed, working as a marketing consultant, and he is also on the board of directors for the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and Lake Superior Marine Museum Association.

Schauer said, “I first began shooting with my mother’s Kodak 110 instamatic and quickly graduated to borrowing my dad’s Nikkormat (Nikon) 35mm camera. I have stuck with Nikon since those early days and now employ a D850 digital model. As for a favorite lens, it has to be my 28-300mm zoom. I find the versatility of that lens is hard to beat. I’m also an FAA certified drone pilot and use a DJI Mavic 3 for aerial images.”

Along with his camera equipment, he totes along a tripod and flash unit for low light situations and extra charged batteries on his photo “safaris.” He also uses a radio to monitor marine, railroad and aviation frequencies.

Photo by David Schauer

For processing digital images, he uses Adobe Photoshop for post-processing of digital images. He explained, “I try to keep processing to a minimum, similar to the old school ‘burning and dodging’ that I did in the darkroom on black and white images decades ago.”

He has had numerous images printed in magazines and books. He has also authored seven books on railroads. Some of his work was featured in a gallery exhibit at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum last year.

Schauer enjoys photographing ships and trains in the same frame when possible. He has found several sites where railroads are in close proximity to docking facilities.

Photo by David Schauer

“For both ships and railroads I find photographing around the Twin Ports offers a wealth of vistas and activity,” Schauer said. “It is a great place if you like the combination of rail and sail. I greatly enjoy photography during what is called ‘blue hour’ before sunrise and after sunset. The color change in the sky can be dramatic during that time.”

The Blatnik Bridge during the "blue hour" - Photo by David Schauer

He added, “I try to capture images that are creative or different versus standard angles. The drone has helped quite a bit in that regard. Photographing during blue hour and in changing weather conditions can produce distinctive images.”

While his primary focus is on railroad and marine photography as his photo watermark suggests, he also enjoys general landscape/cityscape images and industrial subjects.

“Being a native of Duluth I love to showcase the beauty of the area, and Destination Duluth is a premier social media venue to help accomplish that. I’m honored when one of my images is selected for viewing and it is rewarding reading all of the positive comments, Schauer noted.  Since becoming a Destination Duluth contributing photographer in January of 2017, David has become one of the top three photographers, with a mind-boggling 6.5 million views of his photos on Destination Duluth.

“There are a number of current photographers in the area that produce stunning work that I follow, many of them contributing to Destination Duluth,” he said. “When I was young and just starting, photographers such as David Plowden, Richard Steinheimer and Philip Hastings were among many that inspired me to look beyond the common ‘point and shoot’ mentality of photography.”

David’s images have been published in Lake Superior Magazine, Fans of Know Your Ships, North Star Port, Lake Superior Marine Museum Association’s Nor’Easter, Lake Superior Railroad Museum’s The Junction, Trains Magazine, Railfan & Railroad Magazine, plus numerous books.

Schauer says he does not usually sell his photos, however, if someone has a specific interest they can contact him via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/david.schauer.37/

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