Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day: European bee-eaters

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Fond of the outdoors and fascinated by birds, Frenchman Pierre Dalous dedicates himself to taking photos of nature. As an amateur photographer for over a quarter century, he notes that his commitment now is to share his observations and to improve knowledge of the natural environment.
Dalous’ stunning photo of the European bee-eaters is the fruition of many patient hours waiting and months of preparation. In this image, featured as the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day for 28 May 2013, he brings forward a pure moment of raw beauty, and an insight into the behavior of these birds, a rare commodity in Europe.
“They are colorful, talkative and expressive. So they are the perfect subject to make beautiful images,” he explains.
According to Dalous, the interest of the photo doesn’t lie in its technical complexity, but in the message it conveys. “Look around you… See what is going on… Preserve this nature in which you live and to which you belong,” he says.
For Dalous, knowing birds well — including their behavior and their environment — is key. And so is preparation. When the birds migrate back from Africa, Dalous wakes up early and spends a great deal of time in the field; he sets up places of concealment to wait for the birds, familiarizing himself with the environment, the light, in order to be ready when they return.
He first animal photograph, shot in 1974, was made in silver fim with low-end equipment. With time, he updated his photo equipment, until 2000, when he stopped taking photos for some time.
Dalous is a curator at the Natural History Museum of Toulouse and it is thanks to the Wikimedia Phoebus project, a collaboration between the museum, the city of Toulouse and Wikimedia, that he returned to photography in 2011. He now dedicates himself to digital photography, calling it a “revolution.”
In 2012, he shared his first images on Wikimedia Commons. He says it is natural to want to promote a better understanding and knowledge of nature via his photos.
Dalous is both surprised and happy about the recognition his images have received. In addition to being today’s POTD, the image was the overall winner of the 2012 Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year award, as voted by his peers on the image database. He says this recognition not only makes him proud, it also motivates him to continue his photographic work, sharing his gift for portraying the natural environment and the animals that inhabit it.
Profile by Alice Debois-Frogé, Communications Volunteer, Wikimedia Foundation

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