By Request – Good Alternatives to Google Image Search

This morning I received an email from a reader that has been frustrated by the results her students are getting when they search on Google Images. Rather than relying on the filters on Google Images to generate good results for students, give one of these other sources of images a try.

The Morgue File photo collection contains thousands of images that anyone can use for free in academic or commercial presentations. The image collection can be searched by subject category, image size, color, or rating. You will find a mix of images that don't require attribution along with some that do require attribution so pay attention to the labels that come with each picture. Morgue File is more than just a source for free images. The Morgue File also features a "classroom" where visitors can learn photography techniques and get tips about image editing.

Every Stock Photo is a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web. If you click on an image in your search results you will be taken to a larger version of the image, a link to the source, and the attribution requirements for using that picture.

Pixabay is currently my go-to place to find and download quality public domain images. You can search on Pixabay by using keywords or you can simply browse through the library of images. When you find an image you can download it in the size that suits your needs. Registered users do not have to enter a captcha code to download images. Users who do not register can download images, but they do have to enter a captcha code before downloading each picture.

Each time that I visit it the Flickr Commons collection seems to have grown. The Commons contains images that have been contributed by more than five dozen libraries and museums around the world. The images are mostly historical in nature.

Earlier this year the Wellcome Library made more than 100,000 drawings, photographs, paintings, and advertisements available to the world under Creative Commons licensing. The images available through the Wellcome Images library are primarily of a historic nature. You can browse the galleries or search for images by keyword.

Unsplash is a Tumblr-hosted site that adds ten new, free, high-resolution images every ten days. I scrolled through the site for quite a while today and found a lot of nice images. The downside to Unsplash is that the site does not have a search function.

You can find more than 85,000 free images through the Getty Museum's Open Content Program. You can download and re-use the images as long as you give proper attribution for the source of the image. Use the Getty Search Gateway to find images in the Getty Museum's Open Content Program. The Getty Search Gateway allows you to filter your search according to material type, topic, name, source, and location. Once you find an image, click the image's title to be taken to its landing page where you can learn more about it, get the required attribution information, and learn more about the history of your chosen image.

The Wikimedia Commons houses thousands of images that you and your students can re-use. Searching in the Wikimedia Commons isn't the most intuitive process which is why I don't recommend it for younger students. Search the Wikimedia Commons by keyword or browse it by category and topic. 

How Not to Cite an Image

This morning one of my Facebook friends posted one of those "ten signs you're from..." Buzzfeed-like articles that sucked me in. As I looked through the article I noticed something strange about the image credits. In fact, they really were not image credits at all. The caption below the images simply reads, "Source: Google Images." Besides not naming the owner of the image, the author of the article didn't link to the source nor indicated that it was used by permission. I took a screenshot and added a comment to it. You can see my screenshot below. 
Click the screenshot to view it in full screen.

(Yes, you can use this screenshot if you want to share it with your students). 

Applications for Education
Between great public domain image sources like Pixabay (click here for other options) and Creative Commons image search tools there are few occasions when students should have to resort to claiming fair use to use a copyrighted image. If they do end up at that step, they should at least give proper credit to the owner of the image.

A Simple and Helpful Google Search Strategy for Students

A few times in the past I've mentioned the value of having students use Google Image search in the quest to find the answers to their questions. I explained the rationale for that method in this post last June. Recently, a post on Dan Russell's blog reminded me of a tip that could help students in their quest to use Google Images to find clues to the answers of their questions. By right-clicking on the image students can simply select "search Google for this image" to find matching and similar images.
Click image to view full size. 



Google Improves Image Search Tools Menu

Thanks to a Tweet from Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, I learned that the tool bar in Google Images now includes "usage rights." Now instead of having to open the advanced search menu you can just click the "search tools" menu and select "usage rights" without leaving the search results page. Screenshots of the two steps are included below.

Step 1:
click image for full size

Step 2:
click image for full size

Using Google Image Search to Solve a Flea Market Mystery

Image credit: Becky White.
This afternoon my friend Becky White posted on Facebook some pictures of the tea set that she found at a flea market. She was curious about the meaning of the lettering on the bottom of the cups. My suggestion was to take a close-up picture of the lettering and upload it to Google Image search to try to find some matches that could lead to an answer to her question. I tried it myself by using a screenshot of Becky's picture and it didn't get me too far (I couldn't zoom-in enough on the lettering) until I combined the use of the image with some text in the search field. Then I was able to find that the lettering meant "long life."

Watch the short video below to learn how to combine image upload with text to improve your Google Images search results.

Use Bing to Find Public Domain Images

Since I started using them earlier this year Pixabay and Every Stock Photo have been my go-to resources for public domain images. This morning I learned from Tony Vincent that Bing has an option for finding public domain images. To access this setting go to Bing Images, enter your search term, then use the "license" menu to select public domain images. I've included a screenshot of the settings below.
click image to view full size

Applications for Education
Bing image search would probably be my third choice of places for students to search for public domain images after Pixabay and Every Stock Photo. It's my third choice because, like Google Images, the "related" images and search suggestions might not always be appropriate for classrooms.

Use Text and Images for Better Google Image Search Results

When most people look for images through Google Images they just type their queries. You can also upload an image to search for other images that are similar to it. A little tip that I just discovered by browsing through some of Daniel Russell's videos is to combine the two methods. In other words you can upload an image and use text to refine your image search. Watch the short video below to see how it works.