What is the weirdest, scariest public domain picture you have ever seen?
October 4, 2007 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend me some bizarre and/or threatening public domain photographs?

What I'm looking for:

-Images with a lot of depth that are vaguely menacing. Example: this photo of generators inside the Hoover Dam.
-In conjunction with, in addition to, or notwithstanding the above, fanciful and exuberantly weird photos or drawings. Example: the Flammarion woodcut.
-Basically, imagine that you're compiling the imagery for a historical work that chronicles the beginning of the end of the world in a parallel universe.

What I'm not looking for:

-Databases, collections, or listings of public domain images: I know how to find those, thanks.
-Depictions of violence, or anything that might be interpreted as some sort of social commentary. Abstraction is key.

Basically what I'm asking, I guess, is:

What's the weirdest, scariest picture - available in the public domain - you have ever seen?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks in advance, guys.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:46 PM on October 4, 2007

I disagree with your characterization of the two images you list.

The Z Machine photo is fairly weird and menacing.

And there are a handful of "shock" images that are probably effectively public domain. You probably don't want them posted here.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2007

Sorry, clarification do you require strictly public domain images or will noncommercial or sharealike creative commons licenses do?
posted by Skorgu at 7:43 PM on October 4, 2007

I find the giant COBRA DANE radar pretty weird and menacing. [source]

The radomes at Menwith Hill are ominous enough, but there don't seem to be many photos that totally do it justice.
posted by mykescipark at 7:55 PM on October 4, 2007

Oh gosh, browsing through these public domain photo sites is wayyyy more interesting than doing my homework. Here's some stuff my browsing turned up that I found to be of interest.

Miscelleaneous menacing photographs:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Fanciful and ominous drawings:
1, 2, 3

May I ask what the project is? I'm very intruiged.
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:04 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

These fluffy clouds scare me every time.
posted by parudox at 9:12 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tumbler Snapper. (Related)

Perhaps falls under social commentary, but then again, so does your Hoover Dam photo.
posted by IvyMike at 9:58 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

exuberantly weird photos

look up joel peter witkin.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:09 PM on October 4, 2007

sorry, i was always under the impression that witkin did his work in the 20s or something...never realised he was so recent. probably under copyright.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:20 PM on October 4, 2007

I obviously went to bed right after posting this, and only returned to the thread just now.

Sorry, clarification do you require strictly public domain images or will noncommercial or sharealike creative commons licenses do?

CC will only work if it's "by" (Attribution) only. "sa" won't work because I might publish my work commercially as "by-nc-sa".

May I ask what the project is? I'm very intruiged.

I started collecting pd photos a while ago for future reference when designing cd packaging. I might use some of these for a future B-movies album; else they might find their way into random mixtapes.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, guys!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:48 AM on October 5, 2007

My favourites so far: jeremias' NASA testing facility and ITheCosmos' drawing #1. Any ID or source for that one, ITC? Googling the caption returns nothing.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:59 AM on October 5, 2007

Not sure if this is anything close to what you're looking for, but as for the first criteria:


Disclaimer: I took all of these shots myself. I'm not trying to self-promote but I just thought a few of them might hit on what you were going for. If not, my apologies. These are all licensed as "All rights reserved" but if you want to use any of them just shoot me an email (sprocket87 at gmail)!
posted by sprocket87 at 9:02 AM on October 5, 2007

I don't see any attribution on the site, but here's the contact form for the woman who runs the site. She said she scanned the images herself from old books, so I imagine she'd be able to tell you the source.
posted by ITheCosmos at 9:21 AM on October 5, 2007

Thanks, ITC.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:01 PM on October 5, 2007

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