Adding free stock photos to your blog with quick, easy attribution

I was showing a student how to use free stock photos to illustrate an online project, and since I was doing the work anyway, I thought I’d put it here on my blog to share with anyone who was interested.

Most of the images on my blog are photos I’ve taken myself, but sometimes I just want a photo that illustrates a post. Like this one, “Paradise Breached,” a short-story writing exercise where I wanted a photo of a creek in the woods. I didn’t have a photo of my own, so I went to Wikimedia Commons (link HERE) to search the free images available. I also could have searched Creative Commons (link HERE) for an image, as that’s another good go-to spot for free images.

The photo I found for my short story was public domain, so I gave the proper attribution in my caption but didn’t have to mention the license I was using it under. Other times, though, a photo will name specific licensing terms under which you are allowed to use the image. Usually you will then need to identify the photographer and/or state which license is attached to the image.

When I first started trying to do this, it was confusing and time consuming to figure out. I’d get the relevant information from the photo source and then sort of follow the format I’d seen other people using to cite the license information on their blogs. It was kind of like the experience of learning how to cite sources using MLA or APA for the first time. It wasn’t completely clear what details needed to be included or how they should be formatted in my attribution.

Then at some point I noticed that images had started making it easy for people to give proper attribution by putting the appropriate info into a box with instructions for how to copy and paste it into your blog or website. This is what I was showing my student how to do the other day and then decided I’d share here just in case you haven’t discovered it yet.

So, step one would be to go to Creative Commons or Wikimedia Commons or even Wikipedia or other online photo source. I went to Wikimedia Commons to get a photo for my student.

First you click on the photo you want, then on the file name. (Excuse my handwriting; done with poor finger control on my laptop screen. Plus, these photos are kind of blurry. I had trouble uploading my original screenshots to WordPress, so I used my phone to take screenshots of my screenshots and lost some clarity in the process.)


Then click on “use this file on the web.”


Then copy the “Attribution” text and paste it into the caption for your photo on your blog.


And that is basically it. Often, as with my photos above, I don’t use the “caption” format to insert images into my blog. But if I were using a stock photo instead of my own image, I’d select “caption” when I inserted the photo, and then paste the CC 2.0 (etc.) info in.

Like this, for example.

Mannequin wearing Alexander McQueen evening jacket Isabell Schulz (photos · sets), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So maybe you knew all this already, but if you didn’t and you want to try using stock photos to illustrate your blog posts, providing the proper attribution is easy if you follow these steps.

Posted in Writing, blogging | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Friday afternoon (leaving work) photos

The Grohmann Museum was quiet on the second floor when I left work at MSOE this afternoon. I pressed the button to call the elevator but then, immediately after, decided to step away and take a picture of the stair rails because I liked how the light was shining on them.

Then I had to call the elevator again because it had come and gone while I was taking the photo. While I was waiting for the next go round, I noticed the interesting shadows cast by the late-afternoon sun on the small Frederick Remington sculpture right across from the elevator. So out came my phone again.

But it was so hard to get the details of the cowboy’s face to show up in those shadows. Plus, I was too far away to frame the image on my screen in a way that matched the way I was seeing it in real life. So I moved closer, then back again in order to get the right perspective, but having to zoom in a little with the lens to compensate.

Behind me the elevator doors opened and closed. A little more fiddling around with my phone till I finally felt set with my picture and called the elevator one last time. Another week in the books.

When I got home I took a closer look at my pictures and started fooling around with them. Brightened up the one with the stair rail. Cropped the Remington cowboy. His shadowed features still weren’t very clear, so I tried enlarging the picture.

Cool. Up close the photo looked like a painting to me. I liked that El Greco look in the folds of fabric and the planes of the cowboy’s face. What if I magnified it even more?

A little weird, and starting to be unrecognizable. Even better😄

Posted in Art, Milwaukee, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two spires

I was walking back from the Library and Science Buildings shortly after noon today and saw City Hall reflected in the BMO Harris building—a reflection I realized was new to me from this vantage point, since I guess I haven’t walked this sidewalk since the pandemic began. Yes, in fact, I just checked and found that the BMO Tower was new in 2020, so that makes sense.

Anyway, I was just really struck by the way City Hall looked in the reflection. Maybe it’s the tint/color of the glass, maybe it’s something about the construction of the windows themselves? But the City Hall reflection in this building’s windows looked different than it does in the windows of other downtown office buildings. (By the way, I’ve shot MANY photos of City Hall reflected in office buildings. If you search my blog for “city hall reflections” you’ll no doubt find a bunch of them😄)

In this first picture today I was trying to capture City Hall itself (well, its reflection) the best I could with my phone. And I do like this photo., although now I can see the little fringe of leaves in the upper left that ought to be cropped out.

But then I wanted to get Old St. Mary’s spire completely in the photo to correspond with City Hall’s, so I took this second photo.

I couldn’t decide which one I liked best, and neither could my family when I asked for their opinions, so I’m just putting them both up.

What do you think?

Posted in architecture, Milwaukee, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Tosa Turkeys update

I posted on our Milwaukee suburb’s local wild turkeys back in May. Here’s video update from the Milwaukee County Transit System on a bus that got behind schedule down in “The Village” thanks to our snooty, slow-footed feathered friends. 😂

Posted in Life, Milwaukee, Nature | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Dashboard Abstract

I pulled into our driveway and parked in the shade of our yew tree, then noticed the kind of cool pattern of light and shade on the dash as I was getting my things together from the passenger’s seat.

There’s a white streak of road salt that I wish wasn’t there, probably from a backpack or a pair of boots when one of my daughters was getting a lift. I don’t like the way it bisects that area of black just left of center. But I had no wipes in the car, just a little bottle of hand sanitizer. And I knew there was a risk that the light would be gone before I could run inside for wipes or a wet paper towel. So I took the picture anyway. (Tell me: Would you even have noticed if I hadn’t confessed?)

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How good design helped me NOT 4-get 😀

I had to drive someone to St. Luke’s Hospital yesterday for an MRI. (Driving people to medical appointments seems to be the story of my life lately! 🙂 ) After dropping them off at the front door, I entered the parking garage and spiraled up the ramp to find a spot. Then walking to the elevator with my rolling briefcase (so I could get some work done while waiting for the procedure to be finished), I noticed a sign saying what floor I was parked on.

I say “noticed” because I had so many other things running through my mind that I wasn’t actually paying attention AT ALL to which floor/ramp I was on. In fact, I might have gotten into the elevator still preoccupied by other things, without a single thought about where I had parked, if not for this one word.

I had already looked directly a sign with the large numeral “4” on one of the structure’s pillars. Noting it, but in an abstract kind of way. Only when the word “Remember” registered did I realize that I ought to have already taken note of the floor/ramp I was parked on.

That’s nice, I thought, snapping out of my reverie. The instruction to “remember” ensured that I actually did!

Upon entering the elevator, I got another pleasant surprise. There to one side was another sign. This list of floors reinforces the connection between the ramp number’s numeral and color AND writes out the name of the color inside each appropriately colored box.

color-coded list of floor numbers inside elevator door, with names of colors inside colored boxes

I like it when signs use words. Often, I think, designers swing too far in the direction of using nothing but nonverbal symbols (icons, colors, etc.) to convey messages. Apple does it beautifully, but most designers aren’t Jony Ive. Words may be less “elegant,” but they often get the job done more efficiently than images alone.

For example, I am completely worthless with these symbols for opening and closing elevator doors.

Elevator door buttons “Elevator Buttons” by orijinal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

These “arrow” icons have become ubiquitous in the past few years and seem to have completely replaced the words “open” and “close.”

But how often have I frantically tried to figure out which set of arrows means “open” as someone races to catch the elevator as the doors are sliding closed? I can never translate the concepts fast enough to help that poor person out.

Possibly using the arrow icons benefits illiterate people or people who don’t understand English, but adding the words “open” and “close” beside the arrows—or even including the words as another set of buttons (because why should we need TWO different iterations of arrows, as shown in this photo, if symbols are so much better than words?)—would be far better for me, not to mention all the people who have missed the elevator because I couldn’t “read” the symbols fast enough.

Decisions about signage fall under the umbrella of what I think of as UX (user experience) design, except that UX is almost exclusively understood nowadays to mean digital experiences only. That’s too bad, because designing and curating experiences of all kinds is going to become increasingly important moving forward into the digital future. It seems to me that there’s way too much fragmentation and confusion surrounding the idea of UX in nondigital contexts.

Sometimes nondigital UX is called simply “experience design.” I’ve seen that referred to as “XD.” Here’s an article from the XD Agency (styled “THEXDAGENCY” on their website) titled “UX VS. XD” that talks about the differences that they see between the two fields.

Here’s another article, titled”10 Principles of Physical Experience Design,” by Ripon DeLeon, Director of Physical Experience Design at Capital One. He uses the acronym PXD to refer to the concept of designing experiences in the physical world.

And to muddy the waters even more, here’s one from the Interaction Design Foundation on “The Classic Types of Experience.”  According to this article there are many kinds of experience, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.

Yet another term used to describe this idea of designing experience is “Experience Architecture,” or, to use letters, “XA.” Here’s the Wikipedia article on experience architecture (link).

Obviously there’s lots of ambiguity in the still-emerging subfields of the overall domain of experience design. And as the Web 4.0 (Internet of Things) and beyond takes shape, there’s bound to be even more confusion, because virtual and augmented reality will conflate our experience of both physical and digital worlds in ways that boggle the mind too much even to speculate on.

Three question marks

Sorry for rambling! I started with a couple of parking lot signs and then lost track of where I was going once I began thinking about how comprehensive yet inadequate “UX” is as a term for the design of human experience in a world that has one foot planted firmly in analog soil and while the other floats suspended in a digital sea of zeros and ones.

My main point is that good design demonstrates caring and empathy, and St. Luke’s deserves props for signage that embraces these principles. Many people entering a hospital parking structure are probably distracted (or distraught) enough that they’ll have difficulty remembering where they left their car. Adding a gentle instruction to “remember” on ramp markers and placing a color-coded list of floors inside the structure’s elevator should improve the odds that this already-stressed group of people will be able to locate their vehicles when they return.


Posted in architecture, Creativity, Life, Milwaukee, UX (user experience) | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Collision Course

Just a day-in-the-life post here. I drove my husband to the eye doctor yesterday and had to wait for him in my car because the office’s COVID policy didn’t allow anyone but patients in the waiting room.

So there I was, facing east overlooking a rather wide, open stretch of land and a large road-construction project. The bank sign across the street said that it was 95 degrees outside. I turned on my car and ran the AC on low. It wasn’t too bad.

As I was getting some work done in the front seat of my car, I looked up and out through the windshield at one point, noticing as I did that the sky to the south (my right) was sunny and blue, with big fluffy white clouds.

fluffy white clouds in a sunny, blue sky

At the same time I noted that the sky to the north (my left) was dark and ominous, with a thicker layer of white clouds hanging low in a gray sky.

white clouds hanging low in a dark gray sky

The sunny clouds to the south (my right) were moving to the east, leaning north. The dark clouds to the north (my left) were also moving to the east, but leaning south. I wondered what would happen when they ran into each other.

storm clouds meet a sunny blue sky filled with white fluffy clouds

Directly north, the sky was even darker.

Storm coming

I checked the weather radar. Uh oh.

Weather radar showing a storm approaching Milwaukee, Wisconsin

And here came the front, turning windy as it collided with the sunny blue sky, fluffy white clouds, and humid 95º temperature.

The car began to rock, buffeted by the gusts, and I suddenly started to wonder if there was anything to be concerned about (tornado wise). But thanks to technology (my phone), I quickly realized everything was fine.

And I was also able to text my daughters, at home several miles to the east, that a storm was coming and they might want to get our very storm-averse dog outside to do her business while the weather still looked nice and she had no clue what was coming. It worked! Which was good, because by the time my husband and I returned home, it was raining hard and she had made herself scarce.



Posted in Digital society, Life, Nature | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Update on where that lone dinosaur roams

Almost exactly nine years ago I wrote a post about a straggler dinosaur lurking in the wilds of a long-closed mini-golf course and amusement park on North 76th Street in Milwaukee. (My original blog post HERE.)

After years haunting the abandoned, weedy site, the dinosaur was purchased and moved up to Saukville. Here is a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article talking about that event, four years ago:

Today I stumbled upon two nice update articles in OnMilwaukee and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that detail where the enormous reptile’s restoration currently stands. Or make that where it currently “lies,” because, as both articles’ photos and the OnMilwaukee video show, this forlorn guy is “resting in pieces” (couldn’t resist the obvious pun) in a field awaiting his eventual resurrection.

OnMilwaukee article:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:


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This is actually a reflection, on slightly crumpled aluminum foil, of the red light on my stove indicating that a burner is turned on. My daughter had placed a foil-covered tray on a lower oven shelf last night in case the casserole she was baking for dinner bubbled over. It didn’t, and this morning she pulled the tray out and set it atop the stove, intending to remove the foil and do a quick wash of the sheet pan. But I was standing right there making oatmeal and noticed this reflection, so then of course I needed to take a picture. The jagged, twisted red lines remind me of a fire-breathing dragon somehow, even though that’s a very rough association and any resemblance to such a mythical beast most likely exists solely in the eye of the beholder (i.e., yours truly). Still, I think I like this photo as an abstraction, regardless.

Posted in Photography | Tagged | 4 Comments

For want of a nail . . .

I was doing research on something else (always the way it works for me 🙂 ) when I came across this October 2020 Hollywood Reporter article on Shonda Rhimes and got sucked in by the title (Shonda Rhimes Is Ready to “Own Her S***”) and started reading.

This article covers a lot of ground, and its main point is that Shonda Rhimes is super happy at Netflix because of the creative freedom she has:

The reason I came to Netflix is because I wanted to be able to make television without anybody bothering me. . . .  And as long as I get to keep making television without anybody bothering me, I’m happy.

However, the section of the article that most captured my attention was the story of the actual catalyst for Rhimes’s departure from the ABC television network. Yes, there had been battles over budget and content for the multiple series she’d produced for them. Yes, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos had been courting her. But the real straw that broke the camel’s back came in the form of something that should never have been an issue at all: disrespect and a lack of flexibility over a perk that was literally small change in comparison with the huge amount of revenue Rhimes was generating.

From the article:

As part of her ABC relationship, Rhimes had been given an all-inclusive pass to Disneyland — and without a partner, she’d negotiated a second for her nanny. But on this day, she needed one for her sister, too, as she’d be taking Rhimes’ teenage daughter while the nanny chaperoned her younger two. If the passes had been interchangeable, Rhimes would have been happy to give up hers — when would she have time to go to Disneyland anyway?

After some unwanted back-and-forth — “We never do this,” she was told more than once — Rhimes was issued an additional pass. But when her daughters arrived in Anaheim, only one of the passes worked. Rhimes lobbed a call to a high-ranking executive at the company. Surely, he would get this sorted.

Instead, the exec allegedly replied, “Don’t you have enough?”

Rhimes was beside herself. She thanked him for his time, then hung up and called her lawyer: Figure out a way to get her over to Netflix, or she’d find new representatives.

Boom, done. Just like that.

Isn’t it funny how we can agonize over decisions, making pro–con lists, feeling a restless need to change our circumstances yet also feeling trapped inside our “gilded cage” by our “golden handcuffs,” etc.? And then something happens that would ordinarily be quite trivial in the usual course of events—and suddenly we see in a blinding flash of intuition what all of our lists and logical reasoning previously failed to make clear.

Maybe that high-ranking executive was having a bad day. Perhaps Shonda Rhimes and her Disneyland pass was an irritant he just didn’t have time for. Possibly he was annoyed that she was bothering him with something so not-his-job. Given his response to her, it also sounds like he may have been pushing back against her specific Disneyland-pass request within the larger context of those ongoing negotiations regarding her compensation package.

But this was an emergency, and it involved Rhimes’s family. Not just her family, but her family standing at the gate to the Magic Kingdom with a pass that didn’t work.

This ABC executive failed to connect with Rhimes on a human level. He failed to see that this was his chance to be a hero to her and (even better) to help her be a hero to her family. He failed to understand how deeply disrespectful both his lack of help and (even worse) his comment were. Of course, Rhimes could have afforded a ticket to Disneyland. That’s not the point. ABC had given her the passes. They were legitimately hers. Rhimes wasn’t looking for an extra pass. She needed an alternate pass because hers was not interchangeable and could not be used by the sister who was standing in for her (while Rhimes herself was working to earn ABC more revenue).

I assume what happened next was that the sister had to pay to get into Disneyland, had to pay for meals and whatever else is included in an all-inclusive pass. I also assume that Rhimes had to call her sister back and break that news to her.

Imagine how different that story would have gone if that executive had personally called the gate with instructions to honor the pass or hand out a new one. How much harder it would have been for Rhimes to leave ABC, her longtime home where she worked hard, under difficult constraints, but could count on people to have her back and come through when help was needed.

Instead, Rhimes was immediately on the phone to her attorneys telling them to figure out how to get her over to Netflix.

This whole situation reminds me of that old proverb:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Substitute “all-inclusive Disneyland pass” for “nail” and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of the what ABC has potentially lost. According to a June 17 TVLine article, viewers now spend more time watching streaming services than traditional broadcast television. And Rhimes’s smash hit “Bridgerton” has become the most-watched series on Netflix, with news recently that it has been renewed for three more seasons. And “Bridgerton” is only the beginning. According to the October 2020 Hollywood Reporter article, Rhimes has at least 13 other projects in the works.

Maybe Walt Disney Television (which includes ABC) is too big to worry about Shonda Rhimes right now. But if that Disneyland pass was the “nail,” and Shonda Rhimes is the “rider,” will we eventually also see the lost “message,” “battle,” and finally “kingdom”?

Posted in Creativity, Life, Popular culture, Television | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments