This blog, 9th February 2012, is dedicated completely to the photograph which scooped the most points in our recent '2011 Photograph of the Year 'competition and also, to the photographer.
The winning pic shows GBRf liveried class 66, 66704 Colchester Power Signal Box, posted on 8th January 2011. The pic was taken by Geoff Monks on 22nd December 2010. The gypsum working, FFPS - Newbiggin, was passing beneath Warrington Bank Quay, on the low level line. Sunshine and snow - what a combination for a great shot.
On my request Geoff has supplied the following info about his photography backed up by seven photographs of his own choice.
"I was delighted that one of my images won the Winwick Blog 'Picture of the Year'. Thank you to everyone who voted for me.
It was almost inevitable that I should have become interested in railways and particularly in industrial railways because until I was seven, I lived with my parents in a house alongside a level crossing on the National Coal Board's line from Howe Bridge Colliery to Bedford Basin in Leigh and every day I saw one or the other of the two Hawthorns of Leith 0-4-0WTs of 1861 and 1867 that worked the line. By the mid 1950s we were living within sound, but not quite within sight of the NCB's Walkden Yard from where the famous ex-North Staffordshire Railway 0-6-2Ts worked alongside a fleet of brand new Austerity 0-6-0STs. It was while living in Walkden that I became more aware of main line steam because trains passing along the Walkden High Level route were visible from the house, although unfortunately, the numbers were a little too far away to read, even with binoculars.
From 1957 until the end of B.R. steam, we lived in various parts of the Midlands, to wherever my father's senior position within the Coal Board took us. I followed him into one of the Coal Board professions (but in a different branch) and I eventually returned northwards once again to finish up back in the South Lancashire Coalfield. Throughout this period, I continued my interest in BR main line steam until it finished, industrial steam and in the developing preservation scene. I began visiting overseas railways in 1967. Interest in modern traction came later and I have only followed it seriously since my Coal Board career came to a premature end in 1991 upon the virtual collapse of the UK coal industry, although I believe I saw most of the pioneer diesel and electric types during my travels.
Serious photography began in 1965, although I had been taking occasional pictures of trains since about 1960, the results of which are best forgotten! I began with black and white negative film and was shooting colour slides as well by the late 1960s for which I used Kodachrome II (later Kodachrome 25). From 1972 I used two Nikkormat SLR cameras but in 1992 I changed to video because I had become increasingly frustrated by the variable processing of colour slide film.
The age of digital still photography caught up with me in 2005 and my main camera at present is a Nikon D200 DSLR, backed up by a small Olympus E600 DSLR which I use when I need to travel light. Video has slipped into the background because it is a much easier life taking stills.
Rightly or wrongly, I have always believed in using a standard lens wherever possible so as to reproduce what the eye sees. After all, people such as W. V. J. Anderson and Derek Cross used a standard lens for most of the time. The use of 25asa Kodachrome more or less forced me to take pictures only when the sun was shining and as can be seen from most of the pictures I submit to the Blog, this attitude remains with me today, even with digital equipment.
Good shooting in 2012". Geoff.
The following pics have been sent in by Geoff to complement what you have read above.
Pic no.1 shows a young Geoff alongside Cumbres and Toitec Scenic Railroad 2-8-2 No.488 at Osier, Colorado on 3rd October 1983.
The second pic shows B.R. Pre-1968 STEAM. Stanier class 5, No.44780 is pictured at platform 11 Middle at Manchester Victoria on a parcels train, June 1968.
Pic number three shows INDUSTRIAL STEAM. Andrew Barclay No.1338 of 1913 is pictured taking a loaded coal train from Pennyvenie Colliery to Dunaskin Washery on the NCB's Waterside railway system, Ayrshire on 28th December 1976.
B.R. PRESERVED MAIN LINE STEAM is the subject of pic number four. No.45407 and No.76079 are shown at Marsden on a Cotton Mills Express, 6th April 2008.
PRESERVED RAILWAYS are highlighted next, pic number five, with No.5690 Leander pictured at Burrs on the East Lancs Railway, 28th October 2007.
Up next, pic number six is MODERN TRACTION. Stobart liveried Class 92, 92017, is is pictured on the heavily delayed southbound 'Tesco Express' at Warrington Bank Quay on 8th January 2010.
Himalaya Railway class B 0-4-0ST No.803 is depicted on a Darjeeling-bound train at Batasia, near the summit of the line (just over 7,400ft) on 7th January 1979. The range in view includes Kangchenjunga (28,169ft) the third highest peak in the world after Everest and K2.
Note from the blogmaster : I am sure by now you know why Geoff won the pic of year competition. His dedication to picture quality, composition, subject choice and his technical appreciation of photography are qualities we must all aspire too if we wish to depose him in the next competition. In addition to winning the 'Pic of the Year 2011' title Geoff would also have won 'Phototgrapher of the Year 2011' if such a title had existed - he had many more pictures in the top ten than anyone else.