Bad Photography
June 8, 2005 9:39 AM   Subscribe

I need some BAD photographs (bad lighting conditions, etc.).

I teach Photoshop classes and other classes that involve color/image correction. And I need good teaching photos -- photos with all sorts of problems (bad color casts, over-exposed, etc.) I have all this professionally shot stuff that is pretty problem free. I need some more amateur stuff.

I know I could just go to, but I don't have permission to use any of that stuff. I also write magazine articles, and I'd like to have some images that I could use for those too.
posted by grumblebee to Education (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why don't you use flickr? That's creative commons - I think using it in a class should be fine as long as noone tries to do anything with the resulting fixed up image. You're certainly welcome to mine - if you want I'll even add some really scarily bad ones; believe me, I've got them! Actually (lightbulb going off over head) why don't you run an ad offering to fix up people's horrible pictures for free? I bet you'd get a lot of responses - or you could offer it to a local retirement community.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:45 AM on June 8, 2005

Response by poster: mygoth, I like the flickr idea, but note that I want to use the images in publications too. That might be a problem. Also, web images are generally to low-res for print.
posted by grumblebee at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2005

I agree, Flickr is your best bet. You can use images for commercial print publication that are licensed with Creative Commons' Attribution license. (You could also use photos licensed as Attribution-NoDerivs, as long as you aren't going to modify them.)

As for resolution, once you log into Flickr, click the "All Sizes" button above any photo and choose "Original Size" to view the high-res version. Many images on Flickr were uploaded at resolutions more than adequate for print.

Note that you'll need to credit the original source for any of these photos.
posted by waxpancake at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2005

Am I missing something here? Why not buy a crappy disposable camera and take some pictures in high and low light conditions? Or, could you alter (read: worsen the lighting, etc.) the professional images you do have in Photoshop?

Maybe that's cheating.
posted by istewart at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2005

Why not just step outside with a digital that allows for manual control and shoot away. Set the white balance to all the presets possible including a couple customs where your grey reference is a fire hydrant; tree; or pumpkin. Use the manual controls to over and under expose by a few stops. Get some red eye pics. Take a couple pictures with the subject in shade but the fore/background lit by noon time sun. Take a couple in a dark room where the low light creates a bunch of noise. Bad pictures aren't very hard to take if you're trying.

This way you own the copyright and can do what ever you want.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2005

Response by poster: istewart, you're not missing anything. I can take my own. I just wanted to see what all my options were. If there was a big secret pool of images somewhere, I wouldn't bother taking my own. Maybe I will if no one comes up with the pool.

And I'll take a closer look at flckr.
posted by grumblebee at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2005

I shoot a lot of bands, so I've got tons of discards. Over-exposed, under-exposed, horrible stage-lighting, etc. Gmail's down at the moment, but I'll send you an email when its up and get you some you can use.
posted by Jase at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2005

Just because it's on flickr doesn't mean it's CC. Make sure you are getting the ones that -are- CC. Use this link for that.
posted by phearlez at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2005

The Library of Congress has the full set of Prokudin-Gorskii photographs on line. You can have your students reconstruct the color images, correct for defects and color. Mind you, these are necessarily bad but provide some interesting challenges and are public domain.
posted by plinth at 11:19 AM on June 8, 2005

I sent some pics taken with a Lomo ActionCam to the address in your profile.
posted by littlegreenlights at 11:21 AM on June 8, 2005

Take a look at , lots of good stuff and lots of crap, too, most of it license-free.
posted by signal at 12:00 PM on June 8, 2005

Oh, yeah, and you can also create a free account on Deviant Art and find lots and lots of stock photos there, some of which are certainly bad (though there's lots of great stuff there, too). You would probably want to ask for permission to use the photos, which is why I mention creating an account, but it's definitely a huge pool to draw from.
posted by littlegreenlights at 12:19 PM on June 8, 2005

I sent you a few. I have lots more, and feel free to use them however you want. If you get any good results, I'd love to see the final version!
posted by fionab at 1:07 PM on June 8, 2005

One suggestion is using a Livejournal Image Feed. Basically it's a feed of images recently used in LJ posts. It's good because a) there is a lot of crappy pictures that are posted and b) it is far from static- wait about a minute or two and you have a completely new source of images. However, it could be bad because a) not all images are photos (lots of cartoony stuff) and b) licensing could be a potential roadblock.
posted by jmd82 at 1:33 PM on June 8, 2005

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