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My Favorite Things: Color Filtering

picassos blue periodHave you ever wanted to look at that book you read last year, but you could not remember the title? If you remember is what it is about and what it looks like, good news: you might still be able to find it!

Say you remember some book you were reading about Shakespeare and music, you remember that it was blue, and you remember it had lot of singing birds on the cover.

Remembering the cover of a book


How might you find it? Filtering by color just might be the solution you need. 

Several search engines offer color filtering. Here, we will go through through the process using Google, but you can try it in Bing, if you prefer.

(1) Type in a query like [book shakespeare music], and go to Image results:

(2) Look just under the search bar, where you will see navigational links. On the far right, you can click on the Search tools button.

(3) A second line of links appears, offering a useful variety of filters that are helpful for narrowing in on the images you want. By clicking on the Color link you will access a choice of colors. Since the book you want has a blue cover, click on the blue box.

(4) Notice that your results are all now images with blue features. And there, right in the first line of results, is Broken Harmony: Shakespeare and the Politics of Music – just the book you were trying to recall!

Color filtering is useful in a wide variety of circumstances, limited only by your imagination.

In certain circumstances, an idea you want to capture is not easily describable in words but is defined by color. For example, if you want pictures of the Stanford Women’s Soccer Team…

…but you want to emphasize images of the players in action, instead of team portraits, a green filter will emphasize pictures with players more spread out – when you can see lots of grass:

The precise nature of the sources you find changes because the colors imply topic.

Another way to use color filtering is to find sources of a particular type or medium. For example, when you search for [bach] you get lots of pictures of the composer:

…but when you filter the results by white, you identify sources that appear on paper – sheet music:

This trick is particularly helpful when it is difficult to know what words would describe your desired source, such as finding scientific illustrations – which might not be labeled specifically as “scientific illustrations” – or types of sources with many synonyms or related terms, such as diagrams/explosions/schematics. It has even been used to uncover images of fossils embedded specific varieties of rock.

How might you use color filtering to make your life easier? See more examples on Mindshift, or just share your own experiences below!

Do you have a search tip? Share some of your favorite things! And watch this space for more technical tips and tricks that can help you find what you need as efficiently as possible!

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- who has written 25 posts on Castilleja School Library.


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