Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A-Z of Free Online Stuff - 6. Flickr Commons

Image from Leo Reynolds, under a CC
BY-NC-SA licence
F is for Flickr Commons

Flickr probably doesn't need a great amount of introduction - it's one of the first ports of call for many for both image-hosting, and finding Creative Commons material. However one part of the site may not be so well-known to everyone, and that's its Commons search.

The Flickr Commons is a collection of images from the archives of museums and libraries across the world, which contain some brilliant vintage images, all with no known copyright restrictions (see below). You can lose a great deal of time browsing the collections, finding some beautiful, historical and at times totally baffling images.

Ice cased Adelie penguins after a blizzard at Cape Denison / photograph by Frank Hurley 

"Top Women" at U.S. Steel's Gary, Indiana, Works, 1940-1945

"Swan lake", Ballets Russes, [1].

There's some great, inspiring photographs from a range of sources in there which can be used for a good number of purposes. As with everything read the small print before you use them - the "No Known Copyright Restrictions" license isn't quite as free as it sounds, with some institutions asking for credits, links and no commercial use for their collections (as an example see the copyright page for the National Library of Ireland). However as a free source of archive pictures, which would otherwise be locked away in vaults across the world, it's a superb collection.

Another reason why the Flickr Commons is so good is that it has mobilised the very active Flickr Community to help put mysterious photos in context. For example users have helped name unknown locations in this group.

Have a search through and see what photographic treasure you can unearth!


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