Finding Images on the Web

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Introduction: Word and Image

For thousands of years, people have used images, by themselves or with words, for illumination and enhancement, education and communication, and decoration and ornamentation. Never before, however, have so many images existed in one place at one time as they do now on the Web.

Vatican Vergil, c. 400

The Web has billions of images of just about every size, shape, color, subject, medium, theme, static or moving, with or without sound. This training session will help you use the Web as a resource for illustrations that meet your particular needs:

Personal or popular? Professional or academic? Picture only? Picture and caption? Picture and descriptive or explanatory text? Photograph, scientific drawing, graphic, or artistic representation?
The kind of image you want determines the search methods and gateways you will use to find images on the Web.

Sometimes you will find the image you want on the very first try. More often, however, you will make several tries before finding the image that comes closest to meeting all or most of your criteria. Just keep in mind that organizing and retrieving the vast number of images on the Web is an evolving process and it's getting better every day!

One of the challenges in finding images on the Web can be expressed as a conundrum:

Q: When is an image not always a picture? A: When it is a word on the Web.

Images on the Web are identified as and often are retrieved by file formats.
The most commonly used formats (or file extensions or filenames) are: gifs,   jpegs,   (pxts),   and (pngs).

The file format is part of the image's URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or address. The URL is also the image's path name.

The path name of this picture--Dido in her tower watching the departure of Aeneas
from the illustrated manuscript in the Vatican Library now known as Vatican Vergil 3225, folio 39 verso--is:


Note that the creator of the Web page has provided enough information in the path name----
host or server name (vergil.../),    directory name (images),   filename (3225-39v),    and extension (.gif)
----to make it possible for a Web search engine, and also you, to find and retrieve the image.

Word and image are united!
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Page by Ruth S. Thomas, Art/Art History Bibliographer (617) 353-3714
Updated September 2001