Colours of a tag

14 May 2010

I’ve been expanding upon the experiments I presented at VALA earlier this year where I built a search by colour application for the National Library of Australia. Out of curiosity I built the same search by colour application using approximately 35,000 images from Flickr Commons.

Since building these applications I’ve been wondering, do certain topics (or tags) also relate to a colour? Does a search for Paris return the colourful images your imagination expects? Are images tagged with red really red?

With a bit of help from the Flickr API, I’ve built an application that queries the 50 most interesting Flickr Commons images for a particular tag, and displays the colours of these images. It also attempts to create a definitive colour for the tag by averaging the colours out.

As you explore the tags more & more you tend to find that most tags return an average muddy brown colour. I suspect this is partly to do with many of the images being black & white & skewing the process.

It’s really interesting to explore a few different subjects and seeing what results appear.

Formats

Can we find an colour gamut for a format?

Cities and countries

Do different cities or countries have different colours associated with them?

Objects

Do objects have particular colours associated with them? Take a bridge. Why do bridges exist? They exist to allow us to go over a river or a valley. With that logic we should expect photos tagged with bridge to have a reasonably large amount of green or blue in the image.

Sure enough, we get quite a few images with green and blue in them.

Colours

Of course colours are a natural subject to test.

Blue

Green

Red

Yellow

Have a go

Feel free to explore the application and find some interesting results. The URL is totally hackable if the tag you want to test isn’t part of the initial tag cloud.

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4 Responses to “Colours of a tag”

  1. Bobby Says:

    This is CRAZY. You’re finding solutions to questions we didn’t even know were there.

  2. Keith Lyons Says:

    This is fascinating, Paul. Demonstrates to me there is no cure for imagination. This post has made a delightful end of the week for me.

    Thanks

    Keith

  3. karl Says:

    I have experimented things like this with my own photos on my hard drive. My goal was to see depending on the time of the year, or the country I was, were there specific colours?

    I haven’t finished and your code seems to be a lot better than mine. see for the python code
    http://www.la-grange.net/2009/06/29/couleur-moment
    and
    http://www.la-grange.net/2009/06/30/arc-en-ciel

    I’m curious about your code.

  4. Ellen Forsyth Says:

    This is so much fun. Thank you for this.