Reverse Image Search – A How To Guide

As a stock photographer, it’s always fascinating to see where my images end up. It is also annoying when dishonest people try to sell photos they’ve stolen off of websites or downloaded from free wallpaper galleries. Whether you are looking for your own images “in the wild” or wanting to confirm a copyright violation so you can report it, knowing how to do a reverse image search is imperative.

I usually use TinEye when looking to see if photos are available on other stock photography sites to prove ownership. I use Google when trying to find my own images in use online. A good website for finding the source of foreign pictures is Yandex. There are other reverse image search engines, but I’ll focus on TinEye and Google. Each give different results, which is why using several sites can be important, especially before reporting copyright violations.

Reverse search using TinEye

Right click on the photo you want to look for and choose “View Image” from the menu.

You will see a screen with just the image on it.

Highlight the image’s URL and copy that link.

Open another tab and go to

Paste the image’s URL that you copied into the search bar and hit “Enter.”

Results will look like this.

Sometimes I need to check the “found in stock” box to see what other stock sites an image is for sale on.

Click on the link for each site to see its listing there.

This part takes extra diligence if you are looking to report someone for copyright violation! Not everyone sells their images under the same name on each site. You should always compare galleries to see if they contain some of the same photos. For example, I sell under MargJohnsonVA but my Instagram account is BeachLoversLane and my Flickr accounts are CaymanDesigns and MyLanternHill. A different name DOESN’T mean a photo was stolen.

Always confirm an image is really a copyright violation before flagging it.

Reverse Search using Google

Repeat the first three steps above and then open a tab for Google Images.

Click on the camera icon to switch to the Search By Image option.

Paste the photos URL link and hit enter.

Google will sometimes show you other stock websites an image is on, but it most useful for finding what websites have purchased and are using your photos.

It’s always thrilling to my images being used on a well-known website like U.S. News and World Report!

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful!

Check back for more information on why some legitimate images get flagged by the Twenty20 autobot system as “stolen” or copyright violations when they aren’t. Have any topics you want me to cover? Email me at

More Photography Hacks

I have a shower curtain liner in my camera bag. Do you? You should! It is one of the extras that I use the most frequently. If the ground is wet or muddy or sandy, I can spread the lightweight liner out in a few seconds and kneel or lie down without messing my camera or my clothes up.

It also comes in handy if it starts to precipitate and I need to cover my equipment quickly. I can also hide under it and change lenses in windy conditions, especially when there is blowing sand or mist. Protecting the inside of your camera is vital for keeping spots off your sensor.

As I’ve mentioned before, perspective is important in photography. A few weeks ago, we had a heavy dew and thick fog one morning. I noticed an elaborate spiderweb in the yard. I was feeling lazy and tried to take pictures of it from a stooped position with my telephoto lens.

While pretty, I knew I wasn’t capturing the fog too. I finally went and got my shower curtain liner, changed to my micro lens and took more photos while lying flat on my stomach. The resulting shot was worth the extra effort, in my opinion.

(On a side note, I always keep another liner in the linen closet to protect the floor and bedding if anyone comes down with a stomach bug. Trust me, it saves a ton of laundry!!)

Another handy, inexpensive addition to my camera bag is a 99¢ spray bottle with water in it.

It’s small enough to fit in an outside camera bag pocket, which means I don’t have worry about it leaking on my equipment. It comes in super handy if during a photoshoot the morning dew starts to evaporate or doesn’t exist to begin with. I’ve used it on everything from flowers to grapes to fruit.

Let me know if you carry anything unusual in your camera bag and why!

Thanks for reading and happy snapping!

Change your Perspective and Change your Photo

One of the things I always stress to my photography students is that you need to move around when taking pictures. A different perspective can greatly enhance an image. Sometimes, it is as simple as taking a few steps. Occasionally, it means squatting down or climbing up on a ladder or chair. It is unusual for the first approach to be the best one.

Yesterday, I reinforced this lesson to myself when I finally spotted an owl in the wild. Photographing one has been on my Bucket List for years. Who am I kidding? I’ve longed to just SEE one in nature for years. I was so excited, that I grabbed my camera and started shooting without thinking about settings. Unfortunately, I had just been taking pictures of moving objects so I was on Shutter Priority and my first several shots looked like this.

I quickly changed settings while feverishly hoping he wouldn’t fly away! Things got a little better, but then I realized how back lit he was against the sky.

I knew I could correct the exposure with my editing software, but I really wasn’t pleased with the almost white background. That’s when I realized I needed to follow my own advice. I slowly moved several steps to the left until the background was blue sky for some color, but that actually made the exposure worse.

Carefully, I continued to creep farther to the left until the trees across the way were behind him. Voilà! Success!!

On a side note, this is why editing software can be so valuable when working with less than ideal conditions. It can help you capture what you saw with your eyes. If I had spooked the owl and not gotten the final shots, I would have at least had some lovely shots of him against the sky.

I think there is something magical about this shot. Even though it was about 62°F out, it seems like something straight out of a frosty snow globe scene. Playing around with some of my special effects options enhanced the impression.

Photography Composition – The Rule of Thirds

Have you ever seen two photos of the same scene or object and thought one looked a lot better than the other one? Have you ever wondered why? Most of the time it is due to the composition of the photo rather than the subject matter. Once you know how to manipulate your composition, you will be able to consistently turn out superior photos.

Almost every book on photography you’ll ever read includes a blurb describing the infamous “Rule of Thirds.” Basically, the human eye is naturally drawn to a point about two-thirds away from the edge of the photo, either horizontally or diagonally.

Compose your photos so that the main subjects are located around one of the intersection points rather than in the center of the image. But why can’t we use the rule of fourths or fifths or some other number?? Thirds wasn’t just an arbitrary pick. The Greeks studied the most pleasing works of nature and discovered that most of them adhered to a specific proportion that could be described in a specific mathematical formula. (I’ll spare you the details!)

The thing we care about most is – does it make a difference? Well, get out your camera and let’s find out!

My first assignment in the Photography classes I taught always was:

1. Take a photo with the horizon placed in the middle of the frame.
2. Take a photo of the same scene with the horizon on one of the horizontal “thirds” lines (top or bottom) and then again using the other horizontal line.
3. Take a photo of an object (flower, cat, bottle, ball, whatever) in the center of the frame.
4. Take a photo of the same object on the right vertical “thirds” lines  and then again on the left one.

Okay, go do it! Seriously!! I did my assignments along with my students. I was shocked at how actually taking the photos “wrong” and then “correctly” on the assignments teaching composition really helped me grasp the concept more than just reading or talking about it. So, for comparison, here are my examples.

Since it can be difficult to compare them with the 3rds grid on them, here they are again.

What do you think? I personally like the horizon on the bottom 3rds line the best. However, sometimes that can depend on if you are trying to include more sky or more foreground. Notice how having the horizon right in the middle has a tendency to make the photo look more like an amateur snapshot that is in millions of family photo albums. That’s definitely not the look I’m going for!

Okay, let’s try the experiment using the vertical 3rds lines.

And without the lines…

See the difference?? Again, the middle placement makes it look more like a amateur snapshot. Shifting the birdhouse to the right or left definitely creates a more ‘artistic’ look. Also notice how which side you use also affects the image. I prefer the “negative space” created on the left side of the photo when placing the birdhouse on the right 3rds line. There may be times when including the branches better suits the overall composition though. Try to get in the habit of trying both sides. Occasionally, I can be surprised with an extra random shot becoming my favorite one of the day!

Are there times when you should break the rules? Of course!! The composition of an image can convey certain characteristics based on the placement of the main subject and the resulting amount of the space around it.
The subject in the very center resulting in an image divided into two equal halves suggests stability and strength, especially when photographing architecture or a taking a portrait.
The main object placed on one of the thirds can suggest dynamic equilibrium, balance or elegance.
The focal point being placed very close to the edge or cut into by the frame may suggest instability, movement, or an imminent sudden change.

Some other things to know: First, not everyone agrees that the 3 sections should be exactly equal. Again, more math. But using the basic 3rds rule is a good place to start. If you want to know more, look up “Golden Ratio.” Second, some cameras have “grids” in the viewfinder.  A lot of times they are NOT in the proper place for composition. I recommend doing the above exercise using the grid lines and then ignoring them, or turning them off if possible, and comparing your results.

Coming soon: Including the 5 kinds of lines in your composition to create even more exciting images.

Happy Snapping!


My Photography Habit

“A camera” has been on my Christmas list numerous times over the years. I’ve snapped away with 110, 126 and 35mm film point-and-shoot cameras at various points in my life. Taking a photography class in high school introduced me to the world of SLR cameras and learning to actually capture something halfway close to “art.” My interest was further enhanced by working for several years in a camera store where I ran the photo printing lab.

After I was married, I discovered a website that not only let you post reviews of recipes you tried but also photos. My passion for food photography was ignited! Thankfully, by now, we were entering the digital photography era which meant it didn’t cost anything to take a dozen photos of a plate of muffins. My family quickly got used to me spending the first few minutes of dinner taking pictures of my plate if I tried a new recipe.

I later volunteered to teach a photography class in my kids’ home schooling co-op. I found you really learn a subject by having to teach it, especially when you force yourself to do the assignments along with the students.

In 2015, I accepted a friend’s challenge to take part in Project 365. It requires you to take at least one creative photo a day. It was a lot of fun and pretty easy…at first. Then as the days piled up, it became a little harder to find things to take photos of in a new, interesting way around the house or in the yard. However, it pushed me to learn how to use more features and settings on my camera, to look at ordinary objects from a different angle and even become more sensitive to how the changing light can affect the outcome of a photo.


As 2015 came to a close, I stumbled across a website that lets you sell your photos on commission. A lot of site require you to purchase a membership to join, which means you could pay a couple hundred dollars and never make any money selling. I decided to give Twenty20 a shot. The commission is small, but it is fun to make some spending money off of a hobby. I submit a mixture of photos that I take because I want to and ones the website suggest as being popular right now. I have shocked at what sells sometimes. This photo below has sold probably more copies than any other I’ve submitted! But, I guess shopping is one of America’s greatest past times.

Images with some type of human element in them sell the best. Unfortunately, since I’m home alone most days, it isn’t always easy to include a person in my pictures. One of the skills I’m working on improving is using my self timer and tripod to take shots of myself. It can be challenging, frustrating and very rewarding. That is one topic I hope to cover more in a future post.

Until then, Happy Snapping!!