Archive | January, 2012

How To Find Stolen Photos

how to find stolen images online

I often get asked how I find my stolen photographs online.  I generally use two free tools, TinEye and Google Image Search to find my stolen photos online. In this post I’ll explain a little about each tool, how to go about using these tools and why I use them.


Before I get into how to go about using the tools, let me explain why am I interested in finding out who is using my images:  By default all my photographs come with a Creative Commons Noncommercial license.  That means that any and all of my images may be used for personal, noncommercial use, all you have to do is link back to me.  I use these tools to help me discover any commercial entities that may be using my image in violation of the Creative Commons license.


tineye reverse image search

TinEye first came about in 2008 as a way to search for similar images online.  TinEye allows you to upload an individual file, or to enter the URL of an image if the image is already online and publicly visible.  Once your file is uploaded or the URL is submitted you get back a list of results. TinEye also has plugins available for FirefoxChrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer which allows you to right-click on any image and “Search Image on TinEye”.


TinEye Results

For each result you will see two links, one that takes you to the page where the image is displayed, and the other is the actual image file that is on the server.  If the stolen photograph is stolen again, and then used elsewhere it will show up under the “master” result for that image (if that makes sense).  For example, if someone stole your image and gave it rounded edges and then uploaded it to their server, and then a second person came along and stole the image with the rounded corners and posted it to their server, it would all be shown as 1 match, even though it is being used on two different websites.

From the results screen there are also options to compare the stolen image with the image you supplied and to get a permalink to the result to share.

As you can see, TinEye found 10 matches for my most popular stolen photograph on 11 different websites.

Google Image Search


In mid-2011 Google announced a new tool similar to TinEye.  They call it “Search by Image” and it allows you to search Google’s massive catalog of images by an uploaded image or a URL. Google also has a plugin available for Firefox and Chrome, which allows you to right-click on any image and “Search Google with this image”.


Google Results

The Google results look just like any other Google search.  You’ll be most interested in the section that says “Pages that include matching images”.  Clicking on the thumbnail image to the left will take you to the stolen image as it is stored on a different server.  Clicking on the title link to the right of the thumbnail will take you to the web page containing the stolen image.  Unlike TinEye, Google does not group similar sets of stolen images together.  Instead, it lists every single version as a separate entry.

Google produces many more results than TinEye, however I have found that the results can be wrong from time to time.

Google’s Search by Image was able to find 105 matches for my most stolen photograph.


TinEye and Google Image Search aren’t the only ways of finding your stolen images online.  There is at least one pay service that I’m aware of: Digimarc.  Digimarc works by embedding an invisible watermark into your photograph.  Once the photograph is online you can then search for any images that contain your watermark from their search interface.  If there are other alternatives let me know!

Have you had any success using TinEye or Google Image Search?  If so, share your results!

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Lightroom 4 Beta – First Impressions

Early this morning Adobe announced the release of Lightroom 4 beta. The new version, that is due to be released in it’s final form later this year, promises to include some very desirable features, including:

  • A new Map module
  • A new Book module
  • Better video support
  • Simplified basic adjustments
  • New shadow and highlight controls
  • Localized white balance and noise reduction adjustments
  • Emailing directly from within Lightroom

The entire list of features and updates can be found on the Adobe Lightroom blog.

Shortly after it was announced I downloaded the beta to give it a trial run, and I must say I’m quite impressed.  Here are a few highlights:

New Basic Panel

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The Basic panel in the develop module has been overhauled and simplified. The Recovery, Fill Light and Brightness sliders have been replaced with the Highlights, Shadows and Whites sliders. These new sliders operate in a similar fashion to the sliders they replace; the Highlights slider works similarly to the recovery slider and the Shadows slider works similarly to the Fill Light slider. The major difference is in how the new Whites slider and the existing Blacks slider operate. The Whites slider only adjusts the whitest part of the scene, and not the overall brightness as the Brightness slider did. The new Blacks slider works in the same way as before, just the opposite. In Lightroom 3 and earlier you’d increase the Black slider to adjust the black level of the scene, in Lightroom 4 increasing the slider decreases the black level of the scene.

After spending a little bit of time with the new basic panel I was able to give an old image of mine new life. I took an old JPG image of mine that I took in Yosemite back in 2008. The photo is from Mirror Lake and at the time I wasn’t able to get the photo to look how I remember seeing it, with the deep blue sky and nice, saturated colors. When I processed the photo originally in Lightroom 2 I had to compromise and ended up with this:


After taking it and importing it into Lightroom 4, I was amazed at what I could do with the new Shadows, Highlights, Blacks and Whites sliders. After just a few minutes I was able to transform the image into what I beleive is a more accurate representation of what I saw that day:


New Lens Corrections Panel

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The Lens Corrections panel in Lightroom 4 has also gotten a minor facelift. Introduced in Lightroom 3, it totally negated the use of other tools, such as PTLens (my former lens correction tool of choice). Prior to Lightroom 4, the option to remove chromatic aberrations was only available if you chose to use the manual tools to correct lens distortion. The option to remove chromatic aberrations is now available on the profile, or automatic, tool for lens corrections.



New Map Module

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Every Lightroom release seems to include a feature that I was using a plugin for. Lightroom 3 saw automatic publishing to Flickr, which could have allowed me to stop using Jeffrey Friedl’s awesome Export to Flickr plugin (I still use it though, as I find it superior to Lightroom’s built in flickr publisher). Lightroom 4 also has the potential to wipe out another one of Jeffrey Friedl’s plugins I currently use, his “GPS-Support” Geoencoding plugin. Prelimiary research seems to indicate that new new Map module supports importing gpx files, which could allow for fast batch geotagging. I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, though as I don’t have any recent un-geotagged photos and a gpx file to test.

New Book Module

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Lightroom 4 also introduces a new Book module. This module lets you easily create and print books at Blurb (I imagine other publishers are in the works), or create books for print with publishers that can print from a PDF. You have the option to select several different page styles, including just a single photo, multiple photos or photos and text. So far I don’t see a page style for just text. The book module is a little cumbersome in it’s present state, but I expect it to get more refined as Lightroom 4 gets closer to being released.

Want to know/see more?  Check out the Lightroom YouTube channel for Lightroom 4 videos.

That about covers the new options and features that I’m looking foward to most. Have you had a chance to try Lightroom 4 beta yet? What are your thoughts?

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