Wikimedia Czech Republic organized another workshop focused on nature photography, in cooperation with WikiProject Protected Areas and Portal:Photography on Czech Wikipedia. Compared to the previous meet-up, during which Wikipedians (and other interested people from outside the community) learned to recognize different plant species and take pictures of them, we now deciced to explain the theory of plant photography, put the theory into practice and end up by evaluating the results.
The whole event took place under the patronage of Topi Pigula, a renowned Czech protographer who often publishes his work in well-known magazines.
You might wonder how a plant photography seminar could take place in winter. This was because we established contact with The Botanical Garden of Prague, which enabled us to visit their Fata Morgana Greenhouse, take pictures of their plants and publish the pictures under a free licence.
Before actually visiting the garden, we had a brainstorming session, going through such aspects as the golden ratio, picture composition, external flash and tripod usage, as well as many other theoretical prerequisites, fundamental for taking high-quality pictures.
After all this theory, we entered the building of the greenhouse. Even though it was freezing cold outside and the roads were icy everywhere, the participants instantly started sweating inside the tropical greenhouse, with temperatures exceeding 25 °C (77 °F). Soon we found out that the temperatures were too high not only for the Wikipedians, but also for their photographic equipment. The lenses started to fog up and our constant effort to clean them proved to be futile. Therefore, we had to spend the first 30 minutes waiting for the cameras to warm up and get dry. Luckily, we found a hand dryer in the building and this sped up the process, allowing us to eventually start photographing.
Each participant was given a chance to try to practice the skills that they had just learned. During the time, Topi Pigula strolled around the place, consulting with us on optimal camera settings, composition and lighting. Literally hundreds of pictures were taken during the three-hour session, the best of which were chosen to be discussed. The participants evaluated the positive and negative aspects of each picture, giving feedback.
A total number of 13 people enrolled for the event and only 5 of these were experienced Wikipedians. The rest consisted of various people from the public, who had little or no experience with editing Wikipedia. In order to attract them, we had used both a public Facebook “Protected Areas” fan page and a personal appeal among our acquaintances. We want to highlight this success of attracting so many people from outside the community, as this enabled us to speak about Wikipedia, explain our mission, how it works and how they can contribute as well.
The overall result was thus not only the group of the uploaded pictures, but perhaps most importantly, a new interest in Wikipedia among non-Wikipedians. Although only time can show if any of them will start editing, we can definitely say that we helped to raise Wikipedia awareness.
Petr Brož aka Chmee2, member of Wikimedia Czech Republic