Different kinds of workflow practices

I’d really like to know different user workflows and software practices as observers.

I have what feels like a bit of an odd workflow at present.
I simply load my original photos in Preview, do very basic image adjustment within Preview, screenshot and then upload the screenshots.

I have the Adobe suite and know it well … but am taking a kind of elephant path solution at present as it seems fast… but I’m wondering if I need to update and question this.

What are the workflow patterns of other people when uploading and editing large numbers of observations? How do people save time and maximise quality?

1 Like

In the field, I try to take close-ups as well as well composed distant shots, so I won’t want to crop. As you can imagine, I usually fail, due to both skills and camera limitations. If I want to crop a photo, I open it with Paint, which gives me very limited but (for me) adequate ability to adjust, and save it. Basically, my goal is to post easily identifiable observations, so I crop mainly to make small features show up better, not to improve composition, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

Over all, I post mostly mediocre photos. Your goals sound higher, and that’s great. I love seeing beautiful photos on iNaturalist, and once in a while I remember to comment on the good ones. But don’t worry if the pictures don’t meet your personal standards. They’re still useful.


I use google’s no-longer supported image processing software, Picasa, just to crop and center images. I don’t know of anything else worth doing on the image processing end (there may be some things I’m not aware of). I’ve made most of my improvements in photographic equipment and technique. Having a camera that geotags photos has saved me a decent chunk of time using the uploader. The problem is that having a nicer camera makes me take more pictures and go out more so it’s ultimately a loss in time.


Interesting sbushes! I wouldn’t have thought about doing things that way, but if it works, it works!

Built-in software usually seems like a waste of time, but Digital Photo Professional, the photo-processing software that comes with many canon cameras, has actually been great for me. I shoot in RAW, which allows lots of editing flexibility. Personally, I:

  1. “star” images I will keep on the camera
  2. download the starred photos to my PC
  3. Crop and make edits to exposure, white balance, contrast, & saturation. ~45 seconds/image
  4. Export the whole batch as resized jpgs – this takes a little while, but I can do anything else while it’s working in the background.
  5. Upload to iNat/BugGuide.

Having a GPS-capable camera also saves a huge amount of time while uploading. I’m always looking for ways to speed up this workflow, so I’m interested to see what others do! (e.g., keyboard maestro?) :D

1 Like

One downside is you lose any image tags associated with the photos. Those tags are often helpful… I can look at them and determine that a photo was taken with an android phone, so I know I’ll be able to help with tips associated with that device vs say an iphone… and even knowing the camera used can be useful… My camera tags with elevation data, and I know some other cameras do too, and you can look at that as a factor in identification, and even when it comes to determining if a photo is a ripped image off a website (often new users do that unaware that iNat is supposed to be their own photos). Sometimes I feel the location doesn’t seen right for the photo, but because there are camera applied date/time etc in the photo it appears to be their photo, but on inspecting the tags it becomes apparent they have photographed their LCD display on the camera with their phone so that they can upload with the app, and then it has picked up the location of where they took that “photo of a photo” etc.

I always try to frame the photo in the field, so that I can upload pretty much without having to edit at all. I could tweak to bring out certain details etc, but only really needed if an identifier asks for it. I’ll take 3 to 10 photos typically, and only upload 2-4 of those., but tracing back the date and time I can locate the others if an identifier asks for “a ventral view of the head capsule” or “underside of the leaves” or whatever…

Typically I am photographing for ID ease. I try to capture a “whole organism in frame” shot, and then detail shots of whatever I might consider diagnostic. I’ll often take each shot as “with flash” and “without flash”, but it depends on the light conditions and how much battery I am down to.

My biggest advice would be to photograph and observe to meet your own needs, factor the site guidelines in as much as possible, and factor suggestions from other iNatters if it is easy to do so or you see merit to their suggestions. It’s your experience of nature that you are documenting, it would be like strangers reading your personal journal and telling you to write neater or draw less pictures…


didn’t know about elevation data.
I wonder about the tags from my cameras original images, will have to take a look
I know there’s no GPS which is the main thing I would like to be able to have…

sidenote: if anyone has any tips for how to have GPS data capture without having it inbuilt on camera, would also be interested to hear.

I try to frame in the field, but you win some you lose some…
my problem around photographing diagnostic shots is that my knowledge is limited as to what I have to capture with so many insects, so I end up just trying to get every angle and focus point under the sun…

I use Lightroom, and as you can save setting I just use them for those photographs that will be used for id only and crop them, then save as jpgs and download on iNat.
Mentioned Picasa is also quite good, especially if you shoot in jpg, though with time you start to understand its minuses.

1 Like

yeah, it’s like that for most of us! If it’s some consolation, the “not knowing” is part of the process of learning! I tend to photo the begeebies out of things I haven’t seen before, and make hurried single photos of things I have seen before, and sometimes those singles turn out to be things I haven’t seen before but looked similar, and the extra photos would have helped! I should get around to text-blazing my standard reply of “no, I didn’t get that angle, I’ll try and get better photos when I go there next”

Don’t hesitate to ask identifiers what characters they are using or looking for in making their IDs, most are very willing to share their knowledge!


thanks @gmontgomery , good to hear my workflow doesnt sound totally crazy :)

didnt realise bugGuide was another similar site for logging
do you log on both? if so, what advantage is there to BugGuide?

what do you mean by keyboard maestro?

Yeah I should probably use Lightroom… I have it…
…and its so simple to use… I guess I just got stuck in my initial workflow.
Will take a crack with that instead.
It will probably save me a lot more time in the long run as its so well suited to batch processing …especially in comparison with Preview! haha, … funny how you get stuck in a rut with these things.
Thanks for the reminder. :)


You can use a GPS tracking app on your smartphone to record your position over time during your excursion, then use Lightroom or other geo-tagging software to automatically apply the GPS data to your photos based on the timestamp. There is a tutorial at https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/geotagging-photos/66


perfect, many thanks, will take a look :)

That’s right, BugGuide is a similar site that only covers North American insects (and generally has a larger expert userbase for IDs). I haven’t used keyboard maestro, but it’s a program that apparently can be used to automate processes on a processes on a computer that would take a while to do manually.

The EXIF data thing is actually a good point I hadn’t thought about. So it might not be a “best practice” from a data standpoint to do the screenshot thing. But, honestly, you should just do what works for you and is most likely to get you to post your observations!


My camera doesn’t have GPS built in so I will use my phone to take a quick shot (not bothering to make it a good one) to get the GPS data. When I upload my photos to iNat I will group photos from my camera and the one from my phone together and it will put the gps data in the obs. You can delete the phone photo later if you want.


I have Adobe Photoshop Elements which is great for fixing lighting, sharpness, etc. But kind of slow for just cropping and resizing. On my old computer I was using Microsoft Office Picture Manager for quick cropping and resizing. I haven’t loaded my Office programs onto my new computer yet, but found that the Photos app on Windows 10 works well for cropping. However when I used the resize tool, it lost most of the EXIF data including the GPS coordinates.

1 Like

I take pictures with my phone with geotagging turned on. If it’s an animal I take what I can get before it moves. If it’s a plant or an animal that doesn’t run/fly away I take more pictures close up and of different features (such as the back end of bees, leaf shapes and arrangement, stem shape etc).

When I’m home I select and edit the pictures using my phones’ software, open the app and add the observation. I never use the web site except for adding places and projects.

1 Like

These days I pretty much do everything on my phone (except for some final changes which I do in the computer). I would select my photos and place them in a temporary album, try to find the ID’s as best as possible, and then once they are uploaded to iNat I bulk edit location info (I typically change the location name and accuracy range).

1 Like

I mostly post microscopic images, and my workflow leaves a lot to be desired in terms of efficiency. I can end up using 9 different programs for a single observation:

  1. Amscope microscope camera image capture program. This is a buggy, clunky program missing keyboard shortcuts for things that really need them. This is the worst part of my whole workflow and I wish I had some other program I could use instead.
  2. Windows Photo app: I use this to rotate and crop, and also to crop the length of videos. It is also a bit buggy. When I delete or modify an image, it still shows up in the rotation when I move through them with the arrow keys.
  3. kdenlive. If my videos are really long or otherwise need to sped up, I use this program. I could theoretically use it to do all my video editing, but its handling of cropping is too klunky.
  4. ezgif.com to turn videos into gifs, as well as do a little bit of editing
  5. mspaint, but only to scale down images.
  6. IrfanView. Rarely use it, but good for certain mass cropping circumstances or when making collages.
  7. iNaturalist website to upload and add details and all that.
  8. Windows Explorer. Perhaps you don’t think this should count, but I spend a lot of time on it renaming and organizing and deleting things.
  9. ImageJ for adding scalebars

I think I could get something to merge 2, 5, 6, 8, and 9 together. And maybe cook up a script to upload my stuff to iNat that beats using the website. And I suspect there is a good way to merge 3 and 4 too. Not sure that there is an alternative to 1 unless I want to buy a new camera.


Screenshots tend to lose a lot of quality (along with other information already mentioned) compared with the original images. Better to save your adjustments as a copy of the original file using highest quality available, then upload that file instead.

Screenshots can also invite copyright infringement flags when people think you have copied the image from somewhere on the Internet, and don’t realize that it’s your own photo.


I’ll usually do an initial run through on the camera to see if there are any obviously blurry/out of focus photos. Once they’re on the computer I back them up to Google photos, and copy them into a temporary “iNat” folder on my computer. I then take a small batch of 20-30 photos (I’m on a ten year old Linux computer, and don’t want to run the risk of losing what I have done), and go through them on Nomacs to remove the ones that I don’t want to post on iNat, and crop the others when necessary. I like Nomacs because it is simple and I can do most things with keyboard shortcuts, which speeds up my workflow a bit. when I’m done with a batch of photos I upload them to iNat, add locations (if I wasn’t using a gps enabled camera), taxa, etc.

1 Like