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.
Can we find an colour gamut for a format?
Cities and countries
Do different cities or countries have different colours associated with them?
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.
Of course colours are a natural subject to test.
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.