Derek Dysart

Derek Dysart

Code Monkey, Captor of Light, and Suburbanite

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Derek Dysart and I am a freelance developer and photographer, I’m also a father of two boys, 7 and 3. I’ve been focused solely on developing for the web for the past 4 years, prior to that I did mainly application development for Enterprise IT for about 16 years, including just under seven years working for Microsoft’s services and consulting arm.

In terms of photography, I still consider myself an “aspiring” professional photographer, but have been getting paid to make photos for 3 years. I specialize in children’s portraiture as well as event and lifestyle photography. I’ve recently been asked by several individuals for some level of photographic instruction and am contemplating leading a photography workshop this year.

I try to regularly attend Web414 and Barcamp Milwaukee and help to organize Milwaukee’s first Photocamp last May. I hope to repeat the event some time this year, as well as potentially get a monthly photography meet-up rolling.

What hardware are you using?

I’m fairly mobile and stuff a lot into a KATA DR-465 Digital Rucksack Backpack. I love this bag since I can carry both my camera and laptop with me. It gets a bit heavy, but I like having just one bag instead of two.

The rear sleeve holds a 15” late-2008 unibody MacBook Pro w/4G RAM and a 7200 RPM 320G. As much as I try and use the trackpad, I am still a lot more productive with a dedicated mouse and use an Apple Magic Mouse.

The bottom compartment holds my cameras. I currently have a Canon 20D body, with a BG-E2 Grip. I love having the the added battery grip since it has a second shutter release for use when shooting. In terms of glass, I recently upgraded my main “walking around” lens to an EF 24-70mm f2.8L. I also carry an EF 50mm f1.2L which is an awesome portrait lens, though doesn’t like to focus in low light. For light, I’ve got a Canon Speedlite 580EXII shoe mount flash. In addition to that setup, I often carry a Canon G10 point and shoot, which I picked up before a family trip to Disney World (since I didn’t want to lug an SLR). Also in the bag is an assortment of extra batteries for both cameras and the speedlite, chargers, memory cards, and a SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader. I can’t recommend the SanDisk reader enough. It is probably 6-10 times the cost of a cheap USB card reader, but like Mr. T’s van, it’s fast, fool!

If I’m heading out on a photo gig, I have two other things that I can strap to the bag’s cinch straps. On one side, a Crumpler Bundle bag that I have a set of Gadget Infinity Wireless Flash Triggers (one transmitter, three receivers). I’ve modified the receivers to have nice Screwlock PC terminals instead of the stock 1/4” plugs, I also keep a set of colored gels that I have velcro on for attaching to a shoe-mount strobe (a few different levels of CTO Orange, CTB, Red, and a Window Green) for either effect or to balance color temperature again available light. On the other side, the bag has a place to hold a monopod, which I use to hold a Manfroto Nano 001 6’ Light stand. On the light stand is a Photoflex Umbrella Adapter with a 43” Wescott White Umbrella bungie corded to the whole thing.

When at home base, I have a Apple 24” LED Cinema Display. While this monitor isn’t cheap in terms of 24” flat panels, the color reproduction on it is unrivaled at its price point. I keep it color corrected with a Pantone Huey. I have an aluminum Apple Keyboard with Number Pad attached to this setup. I’ve got a couple portable USB Harddrives for backup.

While on site for a development gig, I currently have an older, non-widescreen Dell Ultrasharp 20” LCD, attached to the MacBook Pro with a DVI to mini-Display Port adapter.

For the communicatin’, I have an 32G iPhone 3GS. I have a set of Klipsch Image S4i noise isolating headphones I use with it. I love these headphones if none other than the fact they are at this time the only aftermarket iPhone headset with a three button remote. They sound great too.

And what software?

I probably split equal time between OSX and Windows. The MacBook Pro is running Snow Leopard and has a 32G Bootcamp partition running Vista Ultimate. Given 32G is getting really cramped to do any sort of development under Windows, and the Snow Leopard install is an upgrade, I’m contemplating re-imaging the whole drive.

For Mac Software (main purpose - photo editing + Wordpress/Drupal hacking):

Under windows I pretty much just do ASP.NET Development:

On my iPhone, Apps I use pretty much daily:

What would be your dream setup?

In terms of computer, I have to say the Unibody Mac is a dream come true. Hands down the best piece of laptop hardware I’ve worked on. People will knock Apple for being expensive, those are people who don’t put value on good design. Good design gets out of your way - if you are going to be using something for hours a day, shouldn’t it be nice to use? Shouldn’t if feel nice under your hands? All said and done, I probably paid a $150-$200 premium over a comparably equipped Dell at the time I bought mine. My only gripe was that running Vista under Bootcamp requires some weird nVidea driver under clocking tweaks to stop Windows from locking up randomly.

If money were no object, I’d probably go with a decked out Mac Pro for Photo Editing with a high-end EZIO color panel with a better colorimeter. I still need to be mobile and would probably trade up to the most recent 15” MacBook Pro load with the maximum memory. Additionally after seeing how mind-bendingly fast they are, I’d want a 205GB+ SSD. If you haven’t seen what a difference an SSD makes, go find someone with one. I remember watching James Carlson launch the entire Adobe Creative Suite on his MacBook Pro and ever App was running in 5 seconds.

Since we are dreaming, I’ve always been a home automation buff and would love to build some sort of media server for serving music and HD video out to the various rooms in our house. I’ve seen some really amazing setups that are pretty seamless to the end user. Barring that I need to work out my storage at home for both work and home backups and really want a big bunch of NAS that isn’t slow (like most reviews I read)

I really need to upgrade my camera body. I’m not one that has to have the newest, but the 20D is showing its age. The dream would be a 1DsMkIII, but would settle for a 7D or 5DmkII. While I am happy with my current glass and might only add a EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. In all honesty, I still love my 20D the only thing it doesn’t have the I want is a self cleaning sensor.

I’d love to upgrade with wireless triggers to at least some CyberSyncs or go all out with some Pocket Wizards. I’d also love to upgrade my lights. I do really well with my current shoe-mount strobes (I’ve been reading Strobist since March of 2006), I would like a nice set of AC powered strobes, probably a set of 3 AlienBees with softboxes and a nice Pelican case to transport it all in.

Get in touch

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