Dietrich Krieger wasn’t expecting good conditions that afternoon on the Gehrenberg in southern Germany, where he shot this photo. It had been cloudy and foggy, not unusual weather conditions in the winter around Lake Constance.
Late in the day, Krieger saw a slight chance the clouds would break in time for the magic sunlight hour. He and some friends drove to the Gehrenberg, the small hill near the city of Markdorf, in hopes of capturing something worthwhile.
“When we got out of the car, we were above the clouds and the light was strange, pale, foggy,” said Krieger. “But after a walk, the sun broke through the clouds and approximately ten minutes later started to set.”
After canvassing the scene for good shots, Krieger saw a group of horses grazing on the small grasses that stuck up through the snow. He moved to a spot where the horses were standing against the light, beautifully silhouetted in front of a backdrop of expansive clouds.
With a few quick adjustments to his camera, Krieger began snapping shots of the horses. Then, quickly moving to a better vantage point, he rested his camera upon a fence post and took this Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day. Moments later, while planning a second shot, the owner of the horses opened the stables and they galloped out of sight beyond the setting sun.
“From the time I rested my DSLR on the post to the moment the horses started running, according to the EXIF data, less than a minute passed,” he said.
For Krieger, photography has been a passion since childhood. His father had an abiding interest in it as a hobby, and he loved watching his father shoot. Krieger bought his first camera when he was 12, and quickly immersed himself in trying to understand aspects of the craft like aperture, depth of field and lighting. Early in his career, he carried a different camera body for infrared pictures, for black and white and for color slides. When he finally switched to a DSLR, he was relieved to have much less equipment to truck around.
Krieger began contributing to Wikimedia Commons in 2007, when he came across an article on German Wikipedia that lacked a picture of an old castle that he had shot many times. Since he started uploading images to Commons, Krieger said his subject matter has changed, as he focuses more on material with educational value, or material that will fit with Wikipedia articles lacking good images.
“I discovered that I really like the idea of working for the general public,” he said, noting he also contributes to OpenStreetMap. “After I started to contribute to Commons, everything changed. I try to document old Jewish cemeteries, churches, geological formations, plants, ships, places, buildings — whatever I think someone could use in an article someday.”
Krieger is also motivated by the need to make images available for free, in benefit of education and learning.
“I want to provide pictures everyone can use, without them having to fear getting a costly warning letter from some lawyer,” he said. “In Germany this is a serious problem. Some lawyers try to get money from unaware communities, pupils, small companies, housewives, students, and I really dislike it.”
Though he pays attention to the nominating process for Commons Featured Pictures from time to time, Krieger wasn’t aware that this picture had been in consideration for Picture of the Day until it was listed.
“Naturally I am a bit proud of it,” he said. “I had never expected that one of my pictures would be on the starting page of the Commons one day.”
(View more of Krieger’s wonderful photos)
Story by Jordan Hu, Communications Intern, and Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager
Reporting by Elaine Mao, Communications Intern