This is the result of an experiment I am conducting into categorizing and indexing photographs by colour. At present this is very much a work-in-progress so downtime, poor search results, and browser compatibility problems might arise. The Javascript in particular has been cobbled together very quickly. For more information about how it works read this article.

The pictures

The search currently operates over approximately 74,000 images that were classified as interesting by the flickr website in the months of May, June and July 2007.


Hopefully, people will find this online demonstration very easy to use.

Choosing a colour

Click on the vertical colour bar to choose your hue. Click/drag your mouse within the square to choose the value/saturation of your colour (these are the brightness and the grayness respectively). When you have chosen a colour click on the "Add Colour" button. A preview of the colour will appear below together with its HTML colour code – experienced web developers may wish to edit the six digit colour code directly. Up to four colours may be added in this way.

Specifying tags

You also have the option of specifying tags (image keywords) that you would like to search for. Type them into the box and then add them to the list of search criteria by clicking the "Add Tags" button. As criteria you can choose how the tags modify your search – required/forbidden tags control which pictures are returned by a search; desired/unwanted tags don't necessarily rule a picture in or out and are useful for defining a prefered ordering of the results.

A combination of tags and colours may be used to form your picture search. Note that in this demo, at present, only approximately 1/3 of the images have had tags recorded for them.


Click the button marked with a magnifying glass to start the search. Results should be returned quickly and will be displayed here. Clicking on any image will open its its Flickr page in a new browser window/tab. Use the numbered links (when displayed) at the top and the bottom of the image collection to move through multiple pages of results.

Advanced searches

Tags and colours may be combined in one search. Use the plus and minus buttons to add and remove search criteria. All colours are regarded equally in searches; their order is unimportant.


I would like to thank Flickr for providing such a well designed API to the public. This software makes use of Flickrj a Java API that wraps the REST-based Flickr API; thanks go to its developers. The colour selector is derived from a script I found at eCritters. The search form makes use of some of the icons from the Tango Desktop Project.

Finally I would like to thank all the photographers who contribute their wonderful photographs to Flickr. Without them this project would not have been possible, even though they probably don't know it.