You might suspect this blog is solely about photos and images, and openness thereof. Maybe it is, as this post that has been tap tap tapping inside the head today follows (reversing the reverse blog chronology) of yesterday’s experiment with end-arounding Google Image search and the day before’s waxing on photo making.

I’ve likely blabbed it out previously in this blog pile, but when the idea leads me to click the WordPress “New Post” button, I type no words until there is a catchy (or not) title, but more than that, before even opening the composition space I have been searching for an open licensed image I can use to represent the post (featured image) or maybe remixing one to match the idea.

Actually, I slip down the Photoshop hole sometimes and easily spend twice as long fiddling with the image than the writing (that probably shows). But to me, this is also time for back of the mind toss the idea around some more, or just simmer on the point I think I might want to make. For me, and maybe only me, that part of picking the metaphor in the title and image is as much part of the writing as this alphabetic stuff.

Finding the Dial

What the bleep am I talking about? Well for yesterday’s post, there was a day or two (actually it might have been a late evening) of scouting StackExchange posts and experimenting with a browser extension (meaning a good chunk of time trying and failing to get a working Regex) to reach the thing I could write about:

That image is one I remixed. I was imagining finding images of some old machinery with a dial or a switch with settings I could use to represent the options on Google image search. My searches got me too many washing machine dials. I then got distracted because one of the search results was my own photo that found itself into Wikimedia Commons.

I went back to my own photos, but did not find one that felt right, the closest a photo of an old radio that might have worked. That led me back to the Google Images well, and from searches on “machine knobs” I spotted the suggestion for audio equipment, where I found the Wikimedia Commons image I used as a starting point. I noticed it was from flickr, so I reached back to the original source.

Revox A720 Digital FM Tuner pre-amplifier
Revox A720 Digital FM Tuner pre-amplifier flickr photo by touhotus shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

It was the big red frequency numbers 98.90 I liked and could so remixing into a CC. I downloaded it, got that part in, then found a close enough font to the ReVox brand label so I could re-brand the unit as “Google Images”, and change up the dial labels for “Frequency” and “Manual Tuning”. Then it takes some resizing, skewing, rotating the text to match (plus some layer effects for the “CC”). I then use some practiced clone brush action to wipe out the original text.

That was maybe 45 minutes to remix that image to my own “made” one.

Revox A720 Digital FM Tuner pre-amplifier flickr photo by touhotus shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license modified by Alan Levine to put CC on the display, change the brand name from Revox to Google Images, and modify the knob labels

Yes, by the rules of the license I could have just taken it, used it (with attribution) and that’s often as far as I go. I can try, but cannot fully explain how more fulfilling it is to remix than just reuse, especially as I am working my brain about the thing I am using it for as a metaphor.

It energizes me to do this, and every remix, even doing it the same way, is a good practice of my image manipulation chops.

Don’t Just Take the Bunny Cause it’s Sitting There

This also came up earlier for a recent post about some web tinkering…

The featured image was one of my own, and did not call for a remix but like my thoughts on The Photo Thing it did connect me to the time walking down a local street and finding a perfectly good, abandoned socket wrench. Sometimes you literally trip over the metaphors.

No, what happened was I was already writing and had dropped the metaphor/cliché of going down my tech rabbit holes. I felt an urge to use a representative image as a prelude to my tangent. I hoped to find an open licensed image of like a rabbit wearing high tech goggles.

Since this was before I solved the issue of Google Image search reverting away from settings for creative commons licensed results when I add a keyword, I found an ideal image but it was not open licensed, a rabbit wearing a VR headset. It was in the vast ocean of images removed from their sources aka pinterist.

For no real good reason I reverse image searched to find a source of the VR Rabbit, a 2019 Easter news item for a video gaming store – and there is no knowing of where he image is from, because in the common web world of just taking images because you can, there is no attribution.

I could have just grabbed the image myself, and maybe even have a credit to the Action VR web site, or just gotten away with using the image without giving credit.

That’s too easy. So I just did the best thing, I dropped the found image and made my own. It’s pretty damn easy. It took no time to locate an open licensed rabbit image — Rabbit ! / Kaninchen! flickr photo by Robobobobo shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license and some google image searching for VR headset PNG (with settings for CC only) got me copyright free for personal use TopPNG Oculus Rift image by Jackson Russell. It was maybe 5 minutes to composite in Photoshop.

Voila, a suitable, open licensed image made, not just an un sourced image just taken.

Rabbit ! / Kaninchen! flickr photo by Robobobobo shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license modified by overlay of copyright free TopPNG Oculus Rift image by Jackson Russell

I have no data to back my assertion, only anecdotal personal experience, but I am confident that making/remixing my own images fuels my creativity, so it does more than just keep my copyright clean.

Your mileage will definitely vary.

Featured Image: I was just going to use this image of mine Be a Maker flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license but in the spirit of my post, I remixed the image to read Maker > Taker. Consider the whole thing carrying the same license

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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