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Comparing Contemporary and Historical Public Domain Images

Posted by Laurie Frost on August 17, 2010

Judging from the search terms that land people at this blog, it seems a lot of people are looking for public domain images of structures throughout the world. Earlier this year I had a series of posts offering contemporary views from the CIA Factbook, but the problem with many of those is that they are no better composed than your average tourist shot. If you don’t require current views, you may be just as well off choosing one over a hundred years old from the Library of Congress’s [LoC] catalogue.

In this post, for current views, use Credit: CIA Factbook; old views; Credit: Library of Congress [image ID].

Here we have St.  Andre’s [St. Andrew’s] Church, Kiev, Russia (Ukraine) [LC-DIG-ppmsc-03822] between 1890 and 1900 and, next, today.

[St. Andre's Church, Kiev, Russia, (i.e., Ukraine)]

 

The church has been spiffed up quite a bit in recent years, and if you could crop out that annoying wire and don’t need the whole church, the Factbook’s view is hard to resist — the colors are lovely. I can’t figure out why in the old picture the church seems to tilt when the trees and telephone pole (?) on the left don’t.

In some cases, things have definitely changed around the structure, if not so much to it. Here’s outside the South Gate, on one of the main highways of the Hermit Capitol, Seoul, Korea in 1904  [LC-USZ62-72551]:

Outside the South Gate, on one of the main highways of the Hermit Capitol, Seoul, Korea

and today:

There’s been little change to Alexander’s Column, St. Petersburg, Russia, between 1890 and 1900 [LOT 13419, no. 115] and today, but in this case, the older picture is the better one, I think.

[Alexander's Column, St. Petersburg, Russia]

 

The contrast between these next two images is interesting. First, the Factbook’s contemporary view of  “Part of the Hangman’s Bridge (Henkersteg; built 1457) in Nuremberg. The city executioner used to live in the tower and the roofed walk above the River Pegnitz. Considered a ‘persona non grata,’ the hangman was avoided by the citizens of the city.” Next, from the LoC, an albumen print from some time between 1860 and 1890 of the same structure [#94512777]. The water level seems to have risen, and the covered part of the bridge has received some paint, but otherwise not much has changed in the past 120 to 150 years, except the tower no longer houses a hangman.

In Antwerp, Belgium, the City Hall (Stadhuis) also doesn’t seem to have changed much in the past 100-120 years (LoC dating; #2001697875) in spite of two world wars. Then again, even before the turn of the 20th century, it had seen much; the building was erected between 1561 and 1565.

 Here’s a painting of pilgrims at Lourdes, France,  published by Currier & Ives some time between 1856 and 1907 [LC-USZC2-2915]. The caption from the Factbook for the next image reads, “Pilgrims and visitors at Lourdes. The Rosary Basilica in the foreground serves as an entranceway to the larger Basilica of the Immaculate Conception behind.”

Pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

Again, depending on your purpose, you might prefer this photochrom print from the last decade of the 1800s of  the monument of Alexander II, Helsingfors, Russia [ i.e., Helsinki, Finland] [ LOT 13419, no. 023]  since the Helsinki Cathedral seems to be undergoing some repairs in this Factbook shot.

[Monument of Alexander II, Helsingfors, Russia, i.e., Helsinki, Finland]

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 16: Ireland and the United Kingdom

Posted by Laurie Frost on April 13, 2010

Today’s public domain images are of the British Isles: Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The CIA World Factbook doesn’t list Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland separately; they are all included under United Kingdom. But I have broken them out here. However, you won’t find a section for Northen Ireland since there were no photos in the Factbook to choose from.

Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle (1220), Loch Duichear, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland.

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 15: France, Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal

Posted by Laurie Frost on April 6, 2010

 This is the last stop on the European Continent for this series sampling public domain images from the CIA World Factbook.

France

Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley dates from the early 16th century.

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 14: Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium

Posted by Laurie Frost on April 1, 2010

 Here are some more public domain images from the CIA World Factbook:

Switzerland

The Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the Alps [4,478 m (14,688 ft)], and the rooftops of Zermatt.

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 13: Austria, The Holy See, Italy

Posted by Laurie Frost on March 25, 2010

There are no photos at all or just a few for lots of nations in the CIA World Factbook online. Such is not the case with the European nations. Instead, there are dozens of public domain images, so keep that in mind. What you see here is just a sampling.

Austria

Hohensalzburg Castle,  Salzburg, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, began its history as a wooden fortress in 1077.

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 12: Russia, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic

Posted by Laurie Frost on March 16, 2010

Judging by the laspes between posts, I think I’m getting bored with this world tour through the CIA Factbook , so let’s get on with it. Just have Europe left to go, but I don’t want to neglect this because it just isn’t that easy to find contemporary photos of  these countries that are unambiguously in the public domain. I suspect that those on the CIA Factbook site are submitted by employees who snapped them during their travels — they aren’t usually examples of Photography with a capital P — but that isn’t the focus of this blog. It’s public domain images, ones you can use without risk of a battle down the road.

Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow.

Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, Saint Petersburg.

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CIA World Factbook Photos, Part 11: Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark

Posted by Laurie Frost on March 3, 2010

It’s been a long time since this blog’s last batch of pictures from the  CIA World Factbook. To review, the Factbook is a great source for public domain maps and pictures of flags, as well as information for nations of the world recognized by the US. For some countries, there are a handful of photographs as well.

Accompanying each photo thumbnail is this statement:

Factbook photos – obtained from a wide variety of sources – are in the public domain and are copyright free.

We’re heading into Europe, first flying over the glaciers and fjords of Greenland (below):

and then into Iceland, looking down on a caldera, or the crater resulting from a volcano’s cone collapsing:

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 10: Antartica, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador

Posted by Laurie Frost on December 11, 2009

Two continents are covered in this post of public domain photos from the CIA World Factbook: Antarctica and South America. The Factbook now has few photos of the nations of South America, but check back with it periodically because more photos are promised in the coming year.

LeMaire Channel between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 9: Australia and New Zealand

Posted by Laurie Frost on December 9, 2009

We must be more than half way around the world by now on the public domain photos from the CIA World Factbook tour; at least we can check off another continent tonight, as we stop by Australia and New Zealand.

Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia

Opera House, Circular Quay, and Central Business District in Sydney, Australia

Australia’s capital city of Canberra on Lake Burley Griffin

William Creek, somewhere in the Outback, Australia

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Mount Cook (Aoraki), Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Hall Arm of Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 8: American Samoa, French Polynesia, Guam, Fiji

Posted by Laurie Frost on December 5, 2009

On a cold winter’s night we head to the South Seas for more public domain photos from the CIA World Factbook, starting with French Polynesia. To remind you, to download these photos, start with the homepage (see link above) and use the dropdown menu “Select a Country or Location,” and that will take you to that country’s page for maps, flags, photos (in some cases) and a lot of information. 

Bora Bora, French Polynesia 

Downtown Bora Bora 

Moorea, French Polynesia 

 

Pago Pago, American Samoa 

 

Kuata, Yasawa Islands Group, Fiji 

 

Two Lovers’ Point, Guam 

Below: Map of Oceania, and small maps in which squares denote relative locations of the four countries in this post. The maps, like the images are in the public domain and courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

 

 

Clockwise: Locations of American Samoa, Guam, French Polynesia, and Fiji 

The flag of French Polynesia

 

 

 

 

 

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