A plea to crop your photos!

This has probably been said before, but in my opinion it can’t be said too many times.

As a frequent identifier (mainly of birds) I want to help others ID their photos, but too often the photo is unzoomed and it’s hard to see relevant field marks. Not only does cropping the photo help human identifiers, but the CV is more likely to get the correct taxon when the organism of interest fills most of the screen. This is especially important for smaller organisms where the ID characters may be small and subtle, making an uncropped photo almost impossible to ID.

If you have multiple photos perhaps leave one uncropped to show the habitat/scale, but the first photo should always have the focal organism fill as much of the frame as possible.

This is espexially important as the number of contributors seems to outpace the number of identifiers, so anything that speeds of the ID process makes it more likely that your photo will be identified.


I did a quick test. When an Image is processed and uploaded, the date Metadata is not automatically filled in and one will have to manually type in the date and time into the field. It is an extra step.
Not for nor against the idea but just saying. I’m curious to know what iNat insiders feel on the topic of croping an image.


Agreed! As an insect identifier, very small field marks are often needed and since iNat resizes photos, uploading the uncropped original means that the maximum zoom available to me isn’t the same as you looking at the original resolution file, therefore I can’t zoom in enough to see those marks, even if the photo may contain them. Cropping them ensures identifiers can see those subtle marks like, for instance for bees, how wrinkled the propodeal triangle is, or how densely pitted the scutum is. It would vastly increase the number of identifiable photos of some taxa.


My metadata is preserved when cropping my photographs. I suppose maybe it depends on what application you use to do so?


I view on computer when I ID so I can zoom in. Cropping makes the fast identify window easier though.

Edit to add: aye my metadata is fine but I use photoshop

Editing (cropping) in many programs on computer or phone loose metadata. Even the best programs can remove metadata if not saved the right way or format. It would be great if iNat could handle the cropping online. Maybe even an auto suggestion cropping choice with easy adjustment. That would make it easy and ensure the metadata is preserved.


I’ve never had any problems with the date being missing when cropping, either on my phone or laptop. I agree that an option to do so in Inat when uploading would be excellent.


I use iPhone and macbook photos app. In both cases when I crop photos the metadata is preserved.


Zoom is useful, but if the original photo had detail beyond the dimensions allowed on iNat, the image will have already been shrunk by some percentage, obscuring the details to some extent even on zoom.


I incorporate the date into the file name when I save cropped photos, so even if it’s stripped by the photo editing program, it’s still preserved.

For a moment I thought the title read “A place to crop your photos!”
But I do think that is also pretty important, since there are many different ways people upload photos to iNat. While it might seem like a pretty simple thing, knowing how/where to crop your photos while preserving metadata is pretty important too.

I personally use Google Photos to crop my photos (and also do minor color correction/editing), which preserves photo metadata. On Android I found it somewhat awkward to edit/crop photos because the edited photo would be filed into a different folder and made it a hassle to pull photos from different folders out.

Since I upgraded to a more recent (13pro) iPhone, I have often been cropping the photos on the phone that I submit to iNaturalist, and the needed metadata (date, time & GPS) remain. Most computer photo editing program that I have dealt with have an option to retain metadata, although it is often disabled by default due to privacy issues for people widely distributing their photos on social media.


I do a lot of photo editing and have never lost any metadata on an image unless I specifically set the software to delete it, or if I copy the image to a new canvas that has its own different metadata.


My metadata is preserved when cropping on the iPhone where the photo was taken AND when I use the native Preview app on a MacBook Pro.

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Perhaps for people who would lose the metadata cropping and then saving with a program like, say Photoshop: perhaps the original unedited photo could be submitted to the site and after it uploads as an observation you could go to edit option and add the cropped image, untick the original, and then save so only the cropped image shows on the ob?

I use a camera that saves the metadata so what I will usually do is upload the original, and then should it assist others trying to help ID, add a second cropped image of the subject so ID reviewers can get a view of the entire situation and look at the surroundings I observed the organism in.


folks wanting to have new functionality to crop in the web uploader should probably discuss over at https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/incorporate-basic-image-editing-tools-crop-rotate/1223/38.


Cropping is just the beginning. How many times have I seen an observation of a shadowy background with a slightly-less shadowy organism? And yet, my phone camera’s edit function does include the option to adjust the exposure, brightness, contrast, highlight, and shadow. Yes, these can all be used to excess, but making that slightly-lighter shadow into a visible organism can be the difference between an ID and no ID.


Sounds like an issue with the editing program you are using. Most will transfer the meta data to the new file.

Yes. Very important point


Be careful what you wish for. Cropped photos are often just artifacted garbage, depending on how they are done. Often completely useless to ID from.

Only crop if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, don’t crop.

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