Show Me ©
Information Literacy Modules
  • What is a "born digital" image?

    We call an image "born digital" if:

    • It was created (e.g. digital camera, computer screen capture program, desktop scanner) in digital form for the Web
    • Or you do not know where the image itself (not the place or object in it) is physically stored

  • How do I evaluate an image creator?

    Search the creator's name to evaluate how his portfolio, expertise and point of view relate to your subject. A credible artist or photographer may have:

    • First-hand knowledge of a place or people
    • Seen or participated in events
    • A degree or certification in the medium used
    • A body of work, exhibitions or publications in a related field

  • How do I evaluate a "born digital" photograph?

    A photograph can be both a fine art and a visual record, but it is never entirely objective. A photographer has a point of view and makes visual choices (time, place, perspective, color and lighting) for a purpose or to make an argument.

    We view a photo from our own frames of reference, shaped by cultural and personal meanings. To "read" and evaluate a photograph, ask:

    • What do I see (observations)?
    • What might it mean (inferences)?
    • How does it make me feel?
    • Why might this photo have been taken?
    • What might be the photographer's intent (e.g., to persuade, analyze, record or document, or as an artistic expression)?
    • What is out of the picture? What might be missing?

  • Has my photograph been manipulated?

    Personal and professional photographs are frequently staged, cropped or altered:

    • For dramatic or aesthetic impact
    • To correct imperfections (e.g., red eye, exposure setting, color correction)
    • To deceive the viewer

    You can compare shadows on similar objects to see if the light source is consistent. Another method is to draw lines to check the light source.

    • Draw a line that connects a point on a shadow with its corresponding point on the object.
    • Repeat for all the shadows in a photo.
    • If the shadows are real, the lines will either intersect or be parallel, indicating the location of the light source.

    Tip: Slight errors in matching points to shadows might throw the lines off slightly, but large discrepancies indicate editing.

  • What is an image collection?

    Images may be organized in a database or online album, such as:
    • An image collection about a subject
    • A portfolio on a photo-sharing site (e.g., Flickr, Picassa Web Albums, SmugMug, Snapfish)
    • An album on a social networking site (e.g., Facebook, Google+, Twitpic)
    • A subscription service which resells and licenses images from many sources

  • How do I evaluate an image collection?

    Read the sponsor or publisher's guidelines.
    • What kind of image editing is permitted?
    • How are images contributed or selected?
    • Why would this organization publish these images?

  • How do I cite a born digital image on the open Web?

    Gather elements from the image's Web page or the referring page:
    • Permanent URL
    • Name of website
    • Photographer or artist
    • Date of e-publication or copyright
    • Title of image (if untitled, provide a description)
    • Publisher of website
    • Identifier / image ID ,if given

    Tip: In Flickr, mouse-over the date that the photo was taken to get the date of e-publication.

  • How do I cite a born digital image in a subscription database?

    Gather elements from the vendor's record:

    • Database name
    • Title of image
    • Photographer or artist
    • Identifier / image ID
    • Date of access
    • Permanent URL
    • Name of publisher / vendor
    • Date of publication or copyright

  • How do I cite an image that I found using a search engine?

    A search engine's result points to a source on the Web.

    Cite the source, not the search engine result.

    • Click the URL link (Bing) or "Website for this image" (Google)
    • Cite the Web page on which the image is found