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Monday, 11 March 2013

Photographer of the Year, 2012 - WINWICK

Today's post 11th March 2013, comprises some biographical notes about JEFF NICHOLLS, the 'Winwick Photographer of the Year, 2012'. Following on in the next post will be a similar set of notes from Bob McClellan, the '2012 Alternative UK & World Photographer of the Year'.
Will contributors please hold back further pics until I request them as I have sufficient in 'the bank' at the present time.
Jeff Nicholls - My Photographic Career
I was born in 1950 so saw a few years of the end of real BR steam. Having a father who worked on the railways I was privileged to have free travel tickets which took me all over England trainspotting, one of the highlights being a ride in the cab of a ‘Clan’ the full length of Carlisle station. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 1965 that I acquired my first camera-a Kodak Brownie 44B. With shutter speeds of 1/30, 1/60 and B, and apertures of f5.6 and f8, it took surprisingly good black-and-white photographs ( I couldn’t afford colour), provided that the sun shone and the subject didn’t move! I did get some good interior shots in my local shed, Oxley in Wolverhampton, resting the camera on the buffer beam of an adjacent loco or on the ground. I still have the negatives from that era and they remain among my most treasured possessions.
After the death of real steam, I lost interest in railways until moving to the north west in 1973, discovering the delights of Bickershaw Colliery in Leigh, but still only having the Brownie camera. I then went through a series of 35mm SLRs, beginning with a Russian-made Zenith EM (probably quite a few photographers’ starting point), passing through a Praktica TTL and ending with a Canon AE1 Program which lasted me until the digital era. I still dabbled in monochrome from time to time (going through a ‘Colin Gifford’ phase) but used mostly Kodak colour film. Having been through a Fuji F9500 and S7000, I now use either a Canon 40D or a 60D, with Canon lenses, mostly the 17-85mm IS USM.
My first love has always been steam so, naturally, I have plenty of photos of preserved steam on the main line and on preserved lines. I have also ‘lived the dream’ by going to Poland ten times to drive and fire steam on the main line. To be in charge of a steam loco at 60 m.p.h. on the main line is a spine tingling experience. It’s also damned hard work! During my visits to Poland I’ve also driven electric traction at 75 m.p.h., diesel at 60 and narrow gauge steam and diesel at about 10!
I followed the modern scene around Warrington through the late 1970s and 1980s but lost interest after that until 2009 when I ventured out again and began recording the current scene. Early in 2010 I met Dave Platt on Old Alder Lane who greeted me with the immortal words, “Do you come here often?” He went on to invite me to submit photos to ‘Along Winwick Lines’, which I have been doing ever since. I like to photograph trains in a landscape or an environment. Diesel and electric locos are not as intrinsically fascinating as steam so I prefer to set them in context rather than take close-ups. My favourite location is Twelve Arches where some of my best local shots have been taken.  We are fortunate in that Warrington is a freight ‘hotspot’ and so there is still a reasonable variety of motive power to be seen, along with a sprinkling of unusual workings. Enjoy it while you can for surely, as it has done in the past, it will change and become less interesting.
Through the blog I have made several new like-minded friends and I feel honoured to have won the ‘Winwick Photographer of the Year 2012’ title as it acknowledges my contribution to ‘Along Winwick Lines’. Thanks for voting for me and on behalf of all contributors, a major ‘Thank You’ to Dave Platt for all the hard work he puts into the blog.

A Selection of Pics from Jeff Nicholls.

The Brownie era : Steam as I remember it, rusty and black and white. 76041 at the back of Oxley shed, Wolverhampton in the summer of 1966. Kodak Brownie 44B.

Working Steam : 'Gwyneth' and 'No.8' storm out of Bickershaw Colliery with HAA hoppers which will end up at FFPS behind a class 47. Zenith EM.

The Majesty of Steam : 5029 'Nunney Castle' storms away from Appleby in February 1994. Canon AE-1 Program.

Diesel in the Landscape : A gleaming 37035 leaves Kyle of Lochalsh for Inverness on August 29th 1984 with a backdrop of the Isle of Sky. Canon AE-1 Program.

Diesel in Industry : 70015 passes through Crosfields with coal empties returning from FFPS. Canon 40D.

Twelve Arches : 66160 crosses the Mersey, light engine on May 23rd 2012. You wouldn't think that the centre of Warrington is only a mile from the spot. Canon 40D.

Polish Steam : Tr5 65 rests inside Wolsztyn Depot on June 2nd 2005. I had just driven and fired this loco on a passenger train from Poznan to Wolsztyn. Fuji S7000.

Winwick : A Timeless scene; 86259 Les Ross hurries north on a special working on June 14th 2012. Canon 40D.

Voting can now begin for the 'Pic of the Month', February 2013 competition. The voting system is simple - just send me the yellow February code numbers of the three pics you have chosen as 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each section, Winwick and Alternatives (UK and World combined). All February dated pics posted between February 2nd and March 6th are eligible and have code numbers. My email address is at the top of the blog. Everyone, contributors or not, can vote.

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