The first time Joe Ravi took a picture of Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport Main Terminal, he uploaded it to Wikimedia Commons and was told by other contributors that he should try a couple of different techniques to get a better image. They suggested changing the metering settings and trying a different angle for the shot, both of which led Ravi to the photo you see above, the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day for 13 June, 2012.
“Within a day or two, I went back to the airport and did the same thing again; I basically just took their feedback and did the same thing again,” said Ravi. “I got a much more fantastic picture when you compare.”
The Main Terminal at Dulles is a well-known landmark designed by Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-American architect whose other notable monuments include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Ravi, who lives in Virginia, scouted the area on Google Maps before he went out get his shot. Because it was Washington DC and Dulles airport, Ravi said he was initially worried about what the authorities might think of him taking pictures from atop a nearby parking garage. In addition to the long-exposure images he took in the evening, he captured a very nice shot during the daytime from the same structure.
Before he began contributing photos to Wikimedia Commons, Ravi was an editor on English Wikipedia. He said he regularly saw that images associated with Wikipedia articles came from Commons, which intrigued him. His first uploads were basic photos he took with his cell phone, then others with a point-and-shoot camera. He also uploaded photos he had taken previously from India and other areas where he had lived or traveled.
Eventually, Ravi realized there was an active Commons community that worked together to highlight the best images in the database, nominating them and voting on them as Quality Images. These interactions with other user contributors, said Ravi, “helped me study kind of as an open-source technique to study photography. Other users would rate your images and give you comments and feedback, so that also has added to the technique and knowledge.”
Ravi typically shoots landscapes and architecture, though the Commons community has also voted to feature several of his nature, still life and action photographs. He initially had a goal to have at least ten images featured on the Commons main page as Pictures of the Day. Now that he has surpassed that milestone, he says he doesn’t have a new target, but he wants to continue learning and improving his photography. He was also inspired by an article in the Wikipedia Signpost about JJ Harrison, a nature photographer who travels and shoot photos specifically for the freely licensed database.
As for the attention his images have received after being featured, Ravi said he is quite proud. He spoke of feeling camaraderie with the other photographers working to improve the quality of the images that anyone can use and re-use in perpetuity.
“I have learned quite a bit from this community,” he said.
(View more of Ravi’s photos)
Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager
(Coincidentally, this is also the airport and terminal where many of the 1,000 Wikimedians attending Wikimania in a few weeks will arrive)