A plea to crop your photos!

I view my cell phone as an emergency back-up camera to use only in emergencies. Then I get the photos off it to my desktop computer. But if I ever have the urge to edit on the cell phone, I’ll keep this in mind.

I’m saying that I use the screenshot as the image, but use the original for the metadata. That way the image I use is large, like the original, instead of shrunken because it is a cropped version. The metadata from the original is preserved.

1 Like

honestly I didn’t realise until this thread that iNat downsamples images, since when you click on image you can view “original”…and I just…assumed that was the original upload.

I’ll stop uploading my full resolution images then…I was doing that instead of downsampled files (my typical workflow is to set long edge to 2000px and add my watermark to anything I share on the web, iNat was my only exception to post original hires) but I supposed I should maintain my usual workflow!


no, that’s interesting not overexplaining. i didn’t realize the site did that. i’m still not going to crop in image processing software since i use the app. But does this hold true for zooming in using the iPhone camera too?


I had just spent several hours trying to figure out Gimp’s croping tool. There is a cropping preset function. I set to 2048X2048 and saved the setting. A lot of small buttons to click, which I may forget the next day. I guess with practise it can be easier. The selection can be moved around. When saving, there is a dialogue box with the options of saving the EXIF data. I clicked those options and the Metadata is intact, otherwise it is not transfered. There are several ways of exporting and saving in GIMP that makes it more complex. Cropping with some other softwares in my computer are faster, although there is no control over the picture size. Thanks.

1 Like

I might be losing track of the topic a bit.

I assumed that @david99 was referring to cropping for cases like a blue sky and tiny bird, where without cropping to just the subject, it looks like a grain of sand on a blue background a la “please identify this species from these 3 dark pixels”.

What’s being discussed recently is related to topics:

So the question now is whether to crop photos to 2048x2048 or smaller so that details aren’t lost when uploaded to iNat, yes?

This is currently possible in the android app.


Just a quick thought, if an image looks ok without editing but have a higher image size, can let iNat’s system do the compression. The consideration will be speed of upload only, for very big files.

If an Image can use some cropping, 2048X2048 is a choice. If the organism covers more than 2048X2048 in an image, maybe should use a bigger cropped image, and let iNat’s system do the compression.
Gimp can compress jpeg images by a few % when saving. There is an option to not compress the file. If jpeg image files are processed over 2 softwares, there may be a reduction in quality. Jpeg is not a lossless type of image file. I haven’t experimented on my idea yet, so maybe it isn’t correct.


Oh wow, it does. Not where I would expect this function but it does exist.

1 Like

Yeah, there’s every reason to keep the resampling to 2000px like you usually do, I do as well (lightroom). I also generally set max filesize to 1000kb, have never had it tell me it couldn’t compress to that filesize at that resolution, haven’t noticed any compression artifacts so far, and it speeds up the uploads to keep the filesizes low.

Thanks Broacher for adding that detailed explanation of the max filesize and how it relates to the benefits of cropping!


If I’m understanding your question to be whether iNat downsamples uncropped images from the iPhone camera, the answer is yes. Modern iPhones’ back camera takes images in a maximum resolution of 4032 x 3024. Without being cropped, significant reductions in detail will need to happen if that image is uploaded to iNat, because of the 2048 pixel limit.

I use the iPhone for editing. It depends a bit on which model you use, as the newer models have different specific zoom lenses for either 2x, 2.5x or 3x zoom. There is a also digital zoom (on my iPhone 13) for up to 15x.

I find I get better quality and detail when I use the regular or the specific zoom lens than if I use the up to 15x digital zoom feature.

So, using the 3x lens, I may still have a lot of irrelevant subject matter in the picture. Using the iPhone Camera’s built in tools, I crop the image to help display the subject matter I want to show before uploading (via the iOS app or website).

I do sometimes use the 15x digital zoom to see things far off, but I realize I’m working with a somewhat degraded image. I just cross my fingers and hope. Sometimes, it’s sort of usable, sometimes it goes to the Trash.


I have a similar experience. My sweet spot with the iPhone 11 is 2x zoom plus extra cropping before uploads. At night, I use a handheld flashlight to get better lighting than the built-in flash.

For example: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/133999952 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/133998786


I thought your explanation was perfect :+1:


My method is to have the subject fill the center square made by the thirds lines.


After you choose which photo you want first you will click and drag the one you want second onto the first. You can continue doing this with any other photos, dragging and dropping onto your primary photo, in the order you want them to appear. Also, I haven’t tried this myself, but if you only care about which one is first you could probably select all the others (using ctrl or shift like you would to select multiple files, etc.) and then drag them as a batch onto the image you want as the first.

Mine is less of a standard than an honest and sincere prayer.

While I strive to submit clear, focussed images, I will also submit whatever feels identifiable.

No doubt that there’s an optimism-bias in that call, often dependant on how rare something is to my list and how ignorant I am at knowing the keys. But it’s also based on whatever research I can or can’t dig up.

Yes, sometimes it does nothing to my ID odds, but more often I’m amazed at what a really experienced species IDer sees that I can’t.

And while the proportion of photo is a good rule of thumb, it can be overridden by other factors such as camera resolution (a high res camera gives more cropping range, of course, and a low res, takes away range) and the clear establishment of a larger, unique key, despite the image condition.

Thus my ‘rogue gallery’ of out of focus, motion blurred, terribly angled submissions that nonetheless (and often to my complete surprise), have reached Research Grade quite quickly.


This happens, from sometimes ti often, with unexperienced users who think that an organism can be identified even if photographed from afar. It may also happen that, if you ask them to crop or to photograph more details, they do not meet your request possibly because they either do not know that there is a community of people who would be willing to help for identifications or are not so interested in getting a precise identification.

It may happen also the opposite with an organism photographed only in some small details resulting almost unidentifiable.

In the end, people should understand that photographing an organism with the purpose of asking for an identification or allowing other users to provide an identification could take some tens of seconds to some minutes and it almost always cannot be a matter of shooting a photo without any care.

Maybe a guide or a tutorial could be useful, especially for those who organize projects and bioblitzes who often are themselves unexperienced.

1 Like

I was speaking specifically to when I have to do extreme cropping because the bird or insect was far away. Leaving space around the subject helps keep it from appearing in a larger area of pixels on a screen than the file has pixels itself which can make it hard to see the overall silhouette. I meant that I don’t crop any closer than that when the area of the subject has a small number of pixels.

1 Like

Please don’t hesitate to share this with the takers of the photos you are having trouble with. For me, this is a long slow learning process. I just upgraded my phone for more zoom. I could have bought a camera for that amount, but a camera requires different skills and I want to maximize my abilities with this tool first. But aside from that, the comments I most appreciate are when people say - you need a good head shot to ID that insect, or something in that line. I have a file of those comments that I am trying to learn from.