Sunday, March 24, 2013

Google Image Search

    Hanging beside photographs of my ancestors, I have several images of 19th century Ireland on the walls of my office and kitchen.  Looking at them never fails to remind me of the hardships that were part of everyday life in Ireland during that period.  One of my favorites is of a group cutting turf in a bog as ominous clouds gather over the mountains behind them.  None of the subjects in the photo look very happy, particularly the young woman standing in the foreground.  I have another of her done in close up, clearly taken at the same time.  In this one you can see her bog stained bare feet and she has removed her apron revealing a ragged skirt riddled with holes.  These pictures are evocative rather than beautiful, but they speak to me, they remind me of where I came from, and so they have a place here in my home.

     The group photo was copied, then printed, matted and framed from this site--  The images there are free to use as long as the site is acknowledged, which is what I’m doing here.  There are quite a few interesting photos here worth perusing.  Which brings me to my peeve for today.  Looking at images around the net I have noticed several sites which will sell you prints of these same photos for in the neighborhood of $30.00.  They have ensured you will not copy those displayed on their site by plastering writing across the face of the photo.  I hasten to add, I do not condone copyright infringement, but that is not the case here, they are in the public domain.

Page that appears after clicking the camera icon.
     Should you come upon this aggravating situation, finding a copyright free image you’d like to use that has been defaced, there may be a way around it.  Google search can search for the photo on the net using just the image, no text.  Select Google images, and in the search box that appears you will notice a little gray camera to the right.  Click on it and you will be given the option to upload an image from your computer, or use the image’s URL.  Google will then search for that and similar images.  Even simpler, images saved on your desktop can just be dragged over to the search box.  You can now view every version of the desired photo that is online.

     Other uses might be for old unlabeled personal photos.  Obviously Google can only match your image to images already on the web, so you might not have good luck identifying an old portrait, but you may be able to tell where the photo was taken if there are distinct buildings in the background.  A few years ago I saved an image of a neighborhood and didn’t label it.  Of course I forgot what it was of.  In seconds Google had found “Irish Hill” in San Francisco.  Now I would love to see some free facial recognition programs with age progression and recession please.

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