Thursday, September 20, 2018

New search-by-image method on

My brother is a pilot... 

... and every so often he sends me a picture from somewhere in the world asking "So, smart guy, where is THIS photo taken?"  

Here's one such photo he sent me recently: 

Nice pic.  Of course, I took up the Challenge and did my usual Search-By-Image search tricks

But searching for this on Google didn't give me anything.  

So I tried the Cropping-the-Image trick, cropping it to this close-up, and then re-doing the Search-By-Image.  

But that didn't work either.  I kept cropping it in different ways, but I didn't get very far.  It takes time to crop the image, save it, then re-load it into Image search. 

So I tried this on Bing's image search tool


Like Google's Image search, Bing also has the camera icon, which lets you upload an image to Search-By-Image.  

When I uploaded this image, the UI looks like this: 

Bing's search-by-image UI.

And.. as you can see on the right-hand side, this didn't work either.  

HOWEVER... if you roll your cursor into the image area, you'll see a "crop symbol" popup in the upper right corner.  (Pointed to by the yellow arrow I added to the screen grab.)  

When you select the crop tool, the UI changes to let you do live cropping.  

At this point, you can drag the corners of the sub-image box to create a cropped search of the image. 

The really nice thing about this is that when you let go of the corner widget, Bing re-runs the query with the cropped area.  This means you can very quickly search through many cropped versions of the image!  (You can read Bing's announcement of this--they include a nice demo.)  

With Bing's cropping tool, I played around with this for about 5 seconds before I found the right crop that located a near-match of the image!  

Look at the image in the upper left of these results.... THAT's the image I was looking for... Now that I've got a matching image, it doesn't take long to look at that image and figure out that it's in Detroit, Michigan, just outside of the downtown YMCA.  

Here's a closeup--you can see it's clearly a picture of the same statue. 

It's a great tool... Highly recommended when you need to explore the possibilities of cropped images in a short amount of time.  

Search on! 


  1. Hello Dr. Russell

    I, as always, decided to try this new tool. And discovered that the funciton "Search on this image" works not only with uploaded images. Also works on all images. I searched [dog] and selecting an image found the "crop Symbol"

    It is very helpful indeed. Thanks for sharing and writing about it

  2. It's a great tool - and does stuff I wish Google image search did such as paste an image rather than just a link to the image.

    I tested it with a complex photo I'd taken in Norway. It didn't have a clue on the full picture (which was not surprising) but got it 100% right when I zoomed in on key bits, including items that were quite small in the middle of the photo.

    I also tried it on faces - including those I know are easily findable on the web. For this it was useless. I used a photo of me that I also use on LinkedIn and other places. Google got it right - with links and my name. Bing's image search did not have a clue. This may give a clue to how it works - as it's not searching for the same photo as if it had, it would have found my picture. It must be using a completely different method to Google as it's way better for buildings and scenery - it looks as though it analyses the content to find photos with similar content rather than the same picture, explaining why faces are so wrong.

  3. must still be some glitches (or I was too bingless to figure out the UI - didn't work
    for me - tool appeared in the lower right - function-free…
    also your link [ (You can read Bing's announcement of this--they include a nice demo.) ] took me shopping - see 2nd link…)
    weird, I ended up in Estes Park…
    "2017 casual fall outfits women"
    not that it matters, but my post on Nannerl still remains lost after 2 submissions… leaves me wigging out ;-P
    fwiw - Detroit is a Delta hub… is that the brother's gig?

    1. Sorry, Remmij. I checked, and I don't see your Nannerl post anywhere in the system. Hmmm....

      My brother works for a net-jet company, so his schedule is really random and takes him all over the place. FWIW, his hub is DFW, but not with a big, regularly scheduled carrier.

    2. maybe it has an invisibility cloak/mantle/Tarnkappe? —
      I'm going with 'perukes'
      powdered SERP

      more wig
      …as a working stiff
      a pin…
      "Rome in 1770: “My dear sister! I am in awe that you can compose so well, in a word, the song you wrote is beautiful."

      shopping now days…
      An “everyday” peruke cost about 25 shillings, equivalent to a week’s pay for a common Londoner. The elaborate wigs you see in paintings ran as high as 800 shillings.
      …$52 USD in today's money? luckily, they weren't using BitCoin then… 1 Bitcoin equals 6,320.09 United States Dollars
      large hair
      more large hair
      sail hair
      …meanwhile, in Texas…

  4. hint: clearly not the same planeos - may not be the same ends of the mud-ball… maybe not the most welcome sight from inside the tube/flight deck…
    "So, smart guy, where were THESE photos taken?"
    image SERP

  5. Some screenshotting tools, such as Lightshot, let you search with the image they take. And to screenshot just a part of the screen. Which pretty much exactly suits your approach, even if slower than Bing's built-in.

  6. Just like Microsoft, Google won't innovate unless it feels threatened. Look how that turned out for Microsoft.