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Old 01-21-2008, 12:52 PM
Charlie's Mum's Avatar
Charlie's Mum Charlie's Mum is offline
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Public Domain Photos

Public Domain photos are an excellent resource of copyright-free images. WC! is interested in collecting links to sites where these images can be found so that all may have access to them.

Have you found any Public Domain sites that could be included in this list?

If so, please add them to this thread using the following guidelines:

* full links with the complete web address showing, so that others will have some idea of the site they visit


* a definition of any link so that we may, later, list them for easy reference.

N.B. It’s important to realize that you, the poster, are responsible for the authenticity of the link you provide.
Cheers, Maureen

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Last edited by pinkrybns : 01-29-2008 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 01-26-2008, 12:46 PM
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ejtupi ejtupi is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos of U.S. lighthouses

Here is a link to the U.S. Coast Guard's Historic Light Stations web site. http://www.uscg.mil/history/USCGLightList.html

This page has links to pages of historical information and public domain photos of lighthouses throughout the U.S. The photos are mostly black and white, many of them very old, but the ones I've looked at are largely clear shots of the lighthouses. The links are alphabetical by state.

Since most of the photos are black and white, you will want to find other links for your color references. However, those are mostly easy to find for the more popular lighthouses, such as my two favorites: the St. Augustine and Ponce Inlet lights. (Both of these are ranked in the top seven in the country by one lighthouse web site. If anyone ever gets to St. Augustine or to the Daytona Beach area and is a fan of lighthouses, you should visit these lighthouses - each has a beautiful view from the top, and each is a lovely bit of architecture in my opinion.)

The U.S. government has numerous web sites with tons of public domain photos. The general rules for using government photos as references are:
  • Don't imply that your painting or other work based on the reference is sponsored by the government; and
  • Don't incorporate any recognizable people in the photos in your own work without obtaining a release.
Other than that, U.S. government photos are free to be used.

I'll try to dig up some other links to government photo collections. As a trivia point, I'll note for you that the U.S. government has over 200 Ansel Adams photos in its archives, produced by him using public funds. There is no copyright on these photos; they belong to the public.

Also, NASA has an enormous photo collection, for those who like a little more distant perspective.

More soon, I hope.

Thanks to Maureen (Charlie's Mum), the moderators and WC administrators for starting this thread. I hope others will contribute their links as they discover them.
Making dreary pictures for people with no taste.
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:47 AM
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ejtupi ejtupi is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos: National Archives

Here is a link to the U.S. National Archives. You can explore within the site from that page to find some of the many copyright-free photos owned by the government. I'll do a little digging soon to find some of the Ansel Adams photos - there are a number of sources for them, and for landscape painters many of them will be of interest. (Adams and Edward Weston developed processes for heightening tonal contrasts in black and white photography - probably why so many of his images are so striking: think "values"...)

National Archives Online Exhibits Page: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/index.html

Here's a quote from the National Archives FAQ page about using the images in the archives (taken from: http://www.archives.gov/faqs/ )

May I reproduce images from your web site?
The vast majority of the digital images in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) are in the public domain. Therefore, no written permission is required to use them. We would appreciate your crediting the National Archives and Records Administration as the original source. For the few images that remain copyrighted, please read the instructions noted in the "Access Restrictions" field of each ARC record.
Please note that a few images on other areas of our web site have been obtained from other organizations and that these are always credited. Permission to use these photographs should be obtained directly from those organizations.
I really recommend browsing the Archival Research Catalog. There are some incredible photos there. Some? Try: lots of photos.

Go to: http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/ to start your browsing. It's also a great way to learn some U.S. history, if you're interested.

If anyone knows of links to British or European or any other country's public domain archives, I'd love to see it.


I'll update links with photos and describe them more particularly as I find them.
Making dreary pictures for people with no taste.

Last edited by ejtupi : 01-28-2008 at 02:50 AM.
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Old 01-29-2008, 02:30 AM
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laudesan laudesan is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

Copyright Free Photos. http://www.copyrightfreephotos.com/

Annimals - Buildings - Nature - Places - Technology - Miscellaneous

The copyright (royalty) free photos available on this site have been made available, free of charge, for any application as you require - web design, graphics, backgrounds, printed images, desktop wallpaper & screensavers. The only exception is that images may NOT be added to other photo libraries (either online or offline) - without written permission from the site owner.

PD Photo - Free Photos and Pictures. http://www.pdphoto.org/index.php
Public Domain
Big Sur(26)
Death Valley(55)
Los Angeles(61)
New Orleans(20)
San Francisco(32)
San Diego(215)
Balboa Park(149)
La Jolla(43)
Sea World(61)
Street Scene(33)
Cool Stuff(78)
Computer Art(2)
New Years(17)
The Getty(22)
San Diego Zoo(5)
SD Zoo(110)
User Pics(14)
Wild Animal(86)
External Images
Fish & Wildlife(5)

About PD Photo:
PDPhoto.org is a repository for free public domain photos. Unless something is clearly marked as being copyrighted, you can assume it is free to use. But if you intend to use an image you find here for commercial use, please be aware that standards for such use are higher. Specifically, you should assume no model release was obtained. And pictures featuring products or property should be used with care. The photos are here to be used, but I don't want you to get either of us in trouble over it. If you want to use these images: Go ahead. I've placed most of them in the public domain. However >>> While most of them are public domain, a few aren't. Be sure to read the license under each of the enlarged pictures. If you have any questions, please ask.

NOAA Photo Library http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/index.html


Restrictions for Using NOAA Images

Most NOAA photos and slides are in the public domain and CANNOT be copyrighted.
Although at present, no fee is charged for using the photos credit MUST be given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce unless otherwise instructed to give credit to the photographer or other source.
Downloading Images
If you wish to download an image, click below the image caption on High Resolution Photo. This will download a high resolution "jpg" image that can be saved by right clicking your mouse for printing or manipulation within a graphics software program.

• More than 10,000 new images.

• New search capability.
• Many new albums that better reflect NOAA’s stewardship role and range of operations.
• Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina images that help record the extent of damage of this American tragedy.
• Thousands of stunning ocean exploration photographs, coral reef photographs, and polar regions photographs.
• New additions to albums including remarkable lightning photography, coastal photographs detailing the nooks and crannies of our American coastline including a medley of American lighthouses, and new images detailing the Treasures of the NOAA Library.
• And in this, the 200th Anniversary of the Coast Survey, NOAA’s oldest ancestor agency and America’s first science agency, thousands of newly digitized historical photographs detailing the work of the Coast Survey, Fisheries Commission and Weather Bureau.

~ JJ ~
Let go of past mistakes and hurts. Forgive and empower yourself. Live the life you were meant to live. And, be at peace with yourself.
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Last edited by laudesan : 01-29-2008 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 02-02-2008, 12:35 AM
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ejtupi ejtupi is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos: Alaska Images

Here's the link to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Alaska Image Library.:

Enter a keyword, like "salmon" or "Denali" or "grizzly" in the search box and watch how many public domain photos of Alaska stuff pop up. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.

And that's just the Alaska Image Library. The Fish and Wildlife Service has a massive collection of entirely public domain, non-copyrighted photos that they actually encourage the public to use. They'll even send you high resolution digital images if you need better quality than what they have on the site.

Here's a photo that popped up (one of 165) when I searched using the keyword "bear":

Pretty cool, I think.
Making dreary pictures for people with no taste.
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Old 02-02-2008, 12:55 AM
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ejtupi ejtupi is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos: Bears

Here are a couple more off the Fish & Wildlife Service's digital photo library:

Making dreary pictures for people with no taste.

Last edited by pinkrybns : 02-02-2008 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 02-02-2008, 04:40 AM
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ejtupi ejtupi is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

Here's a cool photo from the Fish and Wildlife Service's image library: Alaska caribou grazing on tundra with mountains in background.
Retrieved from: http://images.fws.gov/default.cfm?fu...0817BF38115D49

Making dreary pictures for people with no taste.
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Old 02-02-2008, 01:44 PM
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ejtupi ejtupi is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos: Volcano

From the NOAA Image Library (thank you JJ for the NOAA link - amazing collection of photos) a picture of one of the volcanoes in the Katmai area of Alaska. Found at: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/line0174.htm

This photo is available in high resolution by clicking on a link on that page. Many of the NOAA photos are available in high res.

Making dreary pictures for people with no taste.

Last edited by ejtupi : 02-02-2008 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:15 PM
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MRSBB MRSBB is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

Thank you Charlie's Mum, Ejtupi and Laudesan for getting this thread up and going. I'm sure it will save all of us a lot of time using the links here instead of searching the web. I for one will be using it. Thanks, Lenore
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in, broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, WOW, What a ride! Anonymous -MRSBB (Lenore)
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Old 02-23-2008, 08:56 AM
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PastelLover PastelLover is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

I would be cautious of a lot of sites that say "free". Many times it means you can use it for personal uses (websites, screen savers, etc.) but not as reference material. Many sites say not for art you might show or sell. I have been researching a lot of sites to find copyright free art reference for my students. The Public Domain site mentioned contains photos from the San Diego Zoo but they are not in the public domain.... be cautious. I am compiling a list of the sites I have found that are truly "free" and will post it soon.

I just want WC members to know that I have not found any site to match your own reference Library!!

Last edited by PastelLover : 02-23-2008 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:56 AM
cldmonet cldmonet is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

Are the photos in Wet canvas public domain?

Last edited by cldmonet : 03-01-2008 at 10:52 AM. Reason: I found my answer after reveiwing other threads Thanks WC
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:40 PM
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Lady Carol Lady Carol is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

Originally Posted by cldmonet
Are the photos in Wet canvas public domain?
Good question. As such I would say no because you have to be a member to view them.
"Mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence" - Time Bandits
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Old 11-27-2008, 06:55 AM
niceguy niceguy is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

there are many images marked Creative Commons on flickr

Here is my Creative Commons flickr group


Also most of the images on my web site are Creative Commons

travel photos

these are from different destinations around the world, just check the permissions before using

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Old 03-15-2009, 03:39 PM
VicFromBayville VicFromBayville is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos - US Coast Guard Lighthouse photos

Here is a link to replace an earlier post with an old URL


You will find lighthouses and other interesting and historic
photos of the US Coast Guard.
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:07 AM
PattyC PattyC is offline
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Re: Public Domain Photos

Wikimedia Commons, a project of Wikipedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

I am still exploring this tool. But there are many categories and lots of images.
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