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1. How is a picture taken?

A photograph that a person’s eye sees is an image which is a result of a photochemical reaction that documents the impression of light onto a surface already coated with silver atoms. It was Fabricius – the alchemist – who first discovered the fact that light can react with these crystal photo chemically by changing silver ions (Ag+) to elemental silver (AgO) in 1556.

Without getting into the historical purview of the discovery of photography, let’s deliberate on how a picture is taken. Depending on the type of camera one has, a picture can be taken in several ways.

If a person has an old-styled camera, it must be noted that it is useless without one essential piece of equipment: a film. A picture on a film camera will be taken after pressing a button. This button initiates a mechanism called the shutter that makes an aperture (a hole) which allows light to enter momentarily through the lens. This light imprints its mark on the film and, thus, a photochemical reaction takes place. Finally, a picture is ready for everyone to see.

On the other hand, with scientific progress and technological innovation, film cameras have been replaced by digital cameras. They operate in the same way as a film camera; the only major difference is that it does not have a film. Instead, digital cameras use an electronic piece of equipment (a light detector) that captures incoming light rays and converts them into electrical signals.

A light detector has two types – a CCD (a charge coupled device) and a CMOS image sensor. Light detector in a digital camera can be of either one of these two types.

The quality of an image/picture taken will depend on a number of factors, including the camera being used, the lens being used, lighting, angle, flashlight, content of the picture (mountains, lakes, trees, people, for example), etc.



2. What do you mean by image of an object?

The image of an object is the identifiable portion of an image. Any particular light source, for example the sun or a light bulb, can illuminate an object. This illumination causes light to reflect that is dependent on the surface properties of the image. It is pertinent to mention that image of an object can be formed on any particular surface, including water. Water has a shiny surface that refracts light. Mirrors, on the other hand, reflect light and aid in creating images.


3. How an image is formed/created?

Examining the formation/creation of an image from a scientific perspective involves numerous radiometric and geometric processes that form two-dimensional images of three-dimensional objects. Each of these processes will be assessed one by one:

  • Imaging: This is a process in which an image is mapped onto a plane. Every point on an image resembles the points on the objects. The object when illuminated scatters light towards the lens of the camera which collects and focuses the light to create the image. Furthermore, the magnification of the image will vary the ratio of the height of the image to the height of the object.


  • Illumination: An object is illuminated by different light sources; these might include a bulb, a light emitting diode (LED), a tube light, or the sun. The reflection from the light incident on the object will be determined by the properties of the object surface. The reflection of light from rough surfaces is described by Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) of the surface. This reflection of scattered light from the object propagates towards the lens and is collected depending on the field of view.


  • Field of View and Imagery: the focal length of the lens and the size of the image plane determine the field of view of the lens. It must be noted that an image created by a lens in continuous.


  • Pupils and Stops: The light collection for each field point is restricted by a mechanical aperture which is the aperture stop of a lens. In a similar vein, the optical elements on the image side of a lens are created by the image of the aperture stop. This image of the aperture stop is the entrance pupil. It collects the light scattered from the object, and focuses onto the image plane through a series of refractive elements.


  • Image Quality: The physical and geometric items, both, determine the quality of an image. A better geometric image quality is created by higher density of pixels across an image as it gives less blocky pixilation. The quality of an image is also determined by lens aberrations. Furthermore, the physical items are the diffraction that restrict the resolvable spatial differences. These diffractions are a result of aperture stop.


  • Perception: There are two means through which an image can be perceived. It can be visually perceived by a human eye or can be perceived on a digital processor of a computer.


4. What are types of images?

There are different types of images depending on whether it is a tangible image (i.e. printed on a piece of paper) or an intangible image (i.e. a digital image, and can be seen on any computer screen).

A tangible image can be printed on any piece of paper, cloth, wood, or any other material that is tangible.

With respect to an intangible image (digital images), there are different types. Each of the different types has its own respective uses. The different types of digital images include JPEG (or JPG) – Joint Photographic Experts Group, PNG (Portable Network Graphics), GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), TIFF (Tagged Image File), PSD (Photoshop Document), PDF (Portable Document File), EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), AI (Adobe Illustrator Document), INDD (Adobe Indesign Document), and RAW (Raw Image Formats).


5. What is the purpose of an image?

There can be infinite purposes for any image. Images are used at every level of human life. Images can be used to inform a person about any particular thing. For instance, it can help create awareness about a brand, or it can inform a person driving a car to drive at a speed of 100 miles per hour. Furthermore, the purpose of an image can be to educate any particular audience. For example, the viewer of a picture of any historical timeline can help the person better understand history of that particular topic. Additionally, there are images that can persuade people to take an action. An example of this can be of a sports car that is intended to persuade potential buyers to buy it. Last but not the least, there are images the mere purpose of which is to entertain. Images can show funny pictures or situations that can make its viewers laugh. Today, in social media, memes are used for this specific purpose.

At an individual level, it can be used by a person to reminisce about his past. One look at an old photo can act as a time machine and transport a person’s mind to relive the captured moments on the photo. At an institutional level, these images are used in the art profession to exhibit the love for nature, philosophy, humanity and many other dimensions. These images can be used for any purpose in the art profession. Fashion industry, social causes, the advertisement world, consumer goods and services, government agencies, etc., all use images to further their goals and interests.


6. Where can I get images for free?

One can use different resources to get free images. The most commonly used online tool for finding and downloading images is the ‘Google Image Search’. Google Image Search is the best tool for locating numerous stock photos and images that are free to use. This involves three simple steps. First, the person will need to enter a search term in the Google Images Search. Then, by clicking on the ‘Gear’ icon, the person will have to click on ‘Advanced search’. After scrolling down and using the ‘usage rights’ drop down menu, one can click ‘free to use and share, even commercially’ tab. By pressing ‘Enter’ on the keyboard, Google’s huge image database will match items that will match with the entered search term and present results of images.


7. What is free use?

Free to use images are unlicensed images. Free images, free stock photos, free clipart images, free images to use, free images to download, etc. are all unlicensed images. Downloading such images from the internet will have no legal consequences.

In other words, these are images or photos that are not protected by any copyright law. In some cases, there are patents involved that restrict others from using images (for example company logos). In certain cases, there are pictures captured by artists who hold copyrights for them, limiting others from using them. It is only the permission of these copyrights holder that allows others to use that particular picture.


8. What is image copyright law?

Copyright provides a legal mean to protect the work of an author by describing it as an intellectual property which offers the author the exclusive usage, publication, and distribution rights. In other words, unless the author consents, no one can use or publish the content created by them.

Taking pictures/photographs of certain things (for example, trademarked and copyrighted imagery) can be perfectly legal since these are unique and original pictures created by you. Notwithstanding, publishing such photos on any platform may not be legal even if the intention of the publisher had no financial motive behind it.

Different jurisdictions have different laws intended to suit the needs of that particular society. In the United States, Chapter 17 of the US Code is enforced to protect the rights of the people who want to hold exclusive rights to images. This code, per se, contains Copyright Act and other relevant laws.


9. Tips on how do I know if image is copyrighted?

As mentioned, every nation has its own jurisdiction with its own tailored laws. One can check the state’s official copyright website or directory of the institution responsible for enforcing copyright infringements.

In United States of America’s case, the federal copyright law protects photographs, clip arts, comic strips, drawings and other types of artwork. All these fall under the definition of ‘work of visual art’. According to the law, an image is immediately copyrighted as soon as it is created. Nevertheless, the owner of that particular image will not be able to recover damages from the infringer unless the owner’s work is registered with the United States Copy Rights Office. The following steps can be used to ascertain whether an image is registered with Copyright Office or not:

  • Search for United States Copy Rights Office on the web (
  • Click on the ‘Search Records’ tab which can be found on the top of the Copyright Office website.
  • Under ‘Online Records’, one can find the ‘Search the Catalog’ tab. Click on it.
  • Then, after clicking ‘Set Search Limits’, one will need to select ‘Visual Materials’ from the ‘Image Type’ box. Now, one will need to click ‘Set Search Limits’ again.
  • Having done so, one can now find out about the image by typing in relevant info about that image. In this context, the ‘Search by’ box aids in finding out that about that particular image. If the person searching for that image has no information regarding that image, one can seek the assistance of the staff members at the Library of Congress.
  • The search results only display copyright information of images registered after 1978. If an image was registered prior to 1978, it will not display on the search results. It can only be found out on the ‘copyright card catalog’ located in reading room of the Copyright Public Records.


10. What punishment if copyrighted image is used without payment?

If there are copyright infringements by any person using copyright images without any permissible usage by the owner of those rights, a person can be liable at law for civil remedies, and in certain cases, be made liable for criminal penalties.

Any person who uses someone else’s copyrighted artistic work (an image as in this case) and makes commercial profits from its use, he or she will have to pay monetary damages. In addition, copyright infringement litigation can be initiated against that person by the court to prohibit the accused from further using the copyrighted material without the owner’s consent. Any material produced by using the copyrighted image can be impounded and made to destroy immediately at the order of a federal judge. Also, the perpetrator may also be made to pay the profits earned as restitution.

The copyright infringement is covered by the Copyright Law of the United States. Copyright infringement disputes are adjudicated by determining copyright has a valid ownership. It is established whether there has been any misappropriations or if there the aggrieved party can be relieved by providing civil remedies via injunctions, damages/profits, equitable relief, monetary damages, and attorney’s fees. Moreover, there can be criminal penalties which include huge sums of fine or imprisonment of not more than five years (for first time offenders) or ten years (for repeated offenders) depending upon each case.


11. Can Google identify pictures?

The answer to the question whether Google has the capability to identify pictures may astonish many people. Yes, Google most certainly can identify pictures. It has state-of-the-art technology which allows users to look up objects on its search engine using images instead of words.

Google has launched ‘Google Goggles’ ( – a mobile app. By simply taking a picture from one’s own phone camera, and if Google recognizes that image, Google’s repository will respond back with a number of relevant search results. At present, it has the capability to identify products, landmarks, works of art, inter alia. It can also scan QR codes and barcodes, solve Sudoku puzzle, add contacts by simply scanning business cards, translate foreign language texts, recognize books, compact discs, and other two-dimensional objects. All in all, this marvel of an app possess the ability to ‘see further’ by using the cloud computing systems and global connectivity.



12. Are Shutterstock images free? Find out…

Shutterstock has been in business for over a decade now. They are profoundly known as the first innovators who introduced stock photo subscription, and own one of the largest royalty free photo collections in the virtual world. At Shutterstock, with over 306 million images, variety is not a concern on the minds of its management.

However, the images on Shutterstock are not entirely free. It offers numerous monthly subscription packages      that can be prepaid or be on credit (for a limited period). The price per image decreases as the subscriber increases the number of photos to be used per month. For this purpose, Shutterstock has provided Prepaid image pack, monthly price packages, and Value priced annual plans (which can avail the subscriber with a 40 percent savings on the annual plan). Furthermore, it also offers standard licenses of Team Subscriptions with a number of monthly subscription packages that range from 2 user packages of US$379/month to 3-10 use packages of US$479/month.


13. How can I get Shutterstock images for free?

It is possible to download images for free from Shutterstock. A large number of websites have found loopholes to download stock photos for free. First, there are images on Shutterstock that are to download from its website. The only annoying thing is that all these free images downloaded from the website have a ‘shutterstock’ watermark on it. Second, the watermarks on the free images can be evaded by using different websites. These websites use the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the free images on Shutterstock and then if they are available on those websites, those images can be downloaded without the watermark. In a similar vein, there are Apps for downloading free Shutterstock images for free. Pixabay is one such app.


14. Are Pexels images really free?

In this context, the questions that one can ask themselves are: Are the images on Pexels being used in the way the license allows? Are anyone else’s rights being infringed with this usage? Has the license been traced back to the original rights holder?

In answering the aforementioned questions, one can look at the license agreement on Pexel’s website and evaluate what is allowed and what is not allowed. The images are free to use, and can be modified and edited in any way one pleases. However, it is necessary not to portray identifiable people in any negative way.


15. How is Pexels free?

Since Pexels contains stock photos for free usage, they are absolutely legal. Content creators and artists upload photos on the website knowing that the uploaded images will be reused by other users of the website.

This is made possible by the two types of licenses used by Pexels – the Creative Commons license (CC0), and the Pexels License. Every page on the website explicitly declares the license whenever any image is displayed. Both these types of licenses allow users to adapt, use, and edit photos for commercial use without having to publicly attribute any credit to the photographer.


16. Is unsplash really free?

Unsplash provides photos for everyone and has a photo repository of millions of images. These images, published on Unsplash, are free to use for any purpose; it can be used for commercial as well as non-commercial purpose. This usage of free images does not require any consent from the creator of that photo or does not require on part from the user to attribute any credit to Unsplash or the photographer (although, it is very much appreciable whenever possible).

The license agreement of Unsplash clearly stipulates that “Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.”


17. Are pixabay images Legal?

Under the license of Pixabay, everyone is granted a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide and royalty free right to download, adapt, use, copy and modify for non-commercial or commercial purposes.

Having said that, people have been critical about Pixabay regarding the sourcing of pictures from other websites on a very large scale. From a legal perspective, Pixabay is not bound to instruct others to attribute credit to the creator of any image. However, it is making huge sums of revenue from the traffic generated by these images. According to some, this places Pixabay in a grey spot as it uses images of others without crediting the creator of those images and it makes profit off of it. Nevertheless, according to Pixabay’s terms and conditions, this perfectly falls within the ambit of legal actions.


18. Where can I find high resolution images for free? Where can I find free images without copyright? Where can I find free images for commercial use? How to find royalty free images free of charge?

Moreover, there are hundreds of websites that offer free to use images. One can find absolutely amazing and mesmerizing royalty free images from the following websites:

  • Unsplash
  • Pixabay
  • Shutterstock
  • Burst by Shopify
  • io
  • com
  • Flickr
  • net
  • Pexels
  • Negative Space
  • AllTheFreeStock
  • Free Photos Bank
  • Free Range Stock
  • com
  • Gratisography
  • Dreamstime
  • Barn Images
  • Adobe Stock (
  • Bigfoto
  • Bigstockphoto
  • Large Photos (
  • SkitterPhoto
  • Morguefile
  • Compfight
  • Getty Images
  • Picography
  • ISO Republic
  • MMT Stock
  • IM Free
  • Stockvault
  • CupCake
  • LibreShot
  • Life of Pix
  • Public Domain Pictures
  • Public Domain Archive (
  • Travel Coffee Book (
  • Rawpixel
  • Rgbstock
  • Death to Stock Photo
  • Stock Photos for free (
  • FoodiesFeed
  • Picjumbo
  • DesignerPics
  • Stick Stock Photo (
  • Every Stock Photo (
  • FreeMediaGoo
  • Jay Mantri
  • Hubspot
  • Kaboom Pics
  • Snapwire Snaps
  • Epicantus
  • Tookapic
  • iStock
  • VisualHunt
  • Super Famous Studios
  • Dry Icons
  • Fancy Crave
  • Foter
  • Startup Stock Photos
  • PhotoRack
  • Tineye
  • Unprofound
  • Cepolina
  • Wylio
  • TwicePix
  • Creative Commons
  • 500px (
  • Bucketlistly
  • Fotolia
  • Albumarian
  • Freepik
  • Jeshoots
  • Studio25 (
  • Creative 103 (


All the above mentioned websites can be looked up online on search engines. They contain thousands of unique pictures that can be used according to one’s specific needs.


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