Reverse image search is a process that I’ve used and helped students use to find the origins of a meme, to discover the history of some flea market pottery, and to identify lots of plants and birds. It’s a skill that everyone should have as it comes in handy for answering lots of research questions in and out of the classroom.
The basic idea of reverse image search is that you take an image and upload it to Google Image search to find matches. Sometimes that’s all you need to do to find a good match and the answer to your research question. But often there’s a little more that you need to do to improve your reverse image search results. Here are the reverse image strategies that every student should learn how to use.
#1 Sub-image Search
Sub-image search is the process of cropping an image to focus on just the most important part and then conducting a reverse image search for that cropped image. Cropping the image removes any extraneous information that isn’t helpful in the reverse image process. For example an example of sub-image search, watch this video that I made about it.
#2 Filter Visually Similar Images
When you conduct a reverse image search Google will provide a gallery of visually similar images. You can refine those results by opening the “tools” menu and filtering according to color scheme, image type, image size, and date. In the video I mentioned above I demonstrated refining the visually similar images results according to color.
#3 Add Words to the Reverse Image Search
Google is fairly good at identifying what an image is when you conduct a reverse image search, but it can use a little help. To help improve your search results you can add keywords to the image that you used in your reverse image search. I demonstrate that little process in this short video.
#4 Metadata Search
Behind every digital image that you capture there is a bunch of information that isn’t visible to the naked eye. That information is called metadata and it includes information like when and where the image was taken, what kind of camera was used, and the original size and color scheme of the image. Much of that information is passed along when the image is published online.
Image metadata can be used as part of the process to solve a research challenge. For example, in this video I demonstrate how to use image metadata to discover what used to be standing where I took the picture used in my search.
#5 Try Alternate Search Engines
Even though Google is the default option for most of us, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best search option. Tools like TinEye and Bing Images can occasionally yield different and or better search results. And don’t forget that your school librarian can give your students access to databases that they might not otherwise find or use.
50 Tech Tuesday Tips and Two Webinars in March!
A huge thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of my eBook, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips! On March 9th I’m hosting a webinar for everyone who purchases a copy by March 8th (more details available here).