Finding the willpower to go through backlog of media

Since I use my phone to take photos, I usually end up having to record video and then taking screenshots of said video in order to get more photos. This process can take a long time, especially with over 100 videos still left to go through. And I prefer to only do videos that occured in the same day at a time before uploading and moving on to the next set of videos. I know I can’t be the only one who gets into this situation where you’re still not done uploading last year’s observations and spring is already starting for you. So how do some of y’all power through it without getting too burned out?


Honestly? I gave myself permission to just delete a bunch of them, and only used the ones I found really distinctive or interesting. When it starts to feel like a chore, just remember you don’t HAVE to upload everything you see.


I can’t imagine deleting anything, I still have stuff from the last spring to edit and upload, but it’s normal, just will do it on a day when you have time! Make sure you upload via website browser, cause uploading via phone is too slow for any good amount of observations.


Six years ago I went on a trip to Svalbard, Jan Mayen and Iceland. I posted some of the observations but I ran out of steam. Did I really need to post all the saxifrages? I’m doing a presentation in two weeks and decided to finally Get the Job Done. All this to say, you can upload whenever, even six years later. This is a hobby, after all.

Also, have you considered burst mode instead of video?


I recently started using another app called Finch that’s helped me massively in being productive. You take care of a little pet bird and can send them out on adventures, but you have to do real-world tasks in order to earn money or make progress. You can even set custom goals/tasks for yourself if there’s something specific that needs done. I have goals for all sorts of things: keeping my space tidy, staying inspired, keeping in touch with nature, etc. I’ve set goals that repeat regularly like uploading my backlog, checking the forum and making IDs here on iNat.

You’d be surprised how motivating a digital bird to buy silly outfits for can be! Maybe try it sometime? :)


Yeah I’ve ended up transferring stuff to my PC so I can have higher res screenshots and upload more at a time.

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I haven’t tried burst mode since two phones ago. It used to be lackluster.

How long are the videos? And what exactly do you mean by “screenshots”? There are lots of tools available that can extract individual frames from videos (or even dump the whole lot to a folder). Are you using one of those?


Videos are up to 5 minutes sometimes. And honestly I had no idea frame dumpers existed. I assumed it’d be too niche of a thing for anybody to develop.

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There are loads of free programs out there (a simple google search will find them).

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It can be hard enough to sort through still photos to pick out the ones worth keeping and uploading. Can’t imagine wading through videos. Is there really a benefit to recording video over photos? Granted, there might be a good frame somewhere in there that you might’ve missed in taking photos but the review and editing process has got to be time-consuming.


I know what you mean about backlog. I have over 300,000 photos taken during the 23 years since I owned my first digital camera, taken on a total of 28 different devices (various cameras, assorted phones, a camera trap, my USB microscope, and my GoPro). Not all of those are flora & fauna, of course, but approaching half of them are.

I was among the first people to join iNat (12 years ago) and at first I just posted occasional things randomly as the mood took me. But at some point I made the decision to go back through my entire archive and systematically log all of the plants and animals I have ever photographed – a gargantuan undertaking.

Part of the motivation for this is to act as an index of all my photos. When people ask me if I have any photos of Standing’s day gecko, say, or of the wildlife of Selous Reserve, I have to remember exactly when I saw that species or visited that place and which camera(s) I had with me at the time. After so many years of so many trips, it inevitably becomes a blur. I usually remember what I have good photos of, but without remembering exactly when I took them, tracking the files down is challenging and time-consuming.

At some point I realised that iNat was a fabulous tool for overcoming this issue. In cases where the observations in question were logged on here, I could find them instantly, since you can easily search by species, location, date, or any combination thereof. On top of which, the community keeps your taxonomy up to date – something that eventually becomes an issue if you maintain your own private offline photo database (in a notebook, spreadsheet, or whatever).

I started by going through all those cameras with a relatively small number of images (<20,000). And so I have now completed 24 of the 28 devices, with just my 4 main cameras left to do. That may sound like good progress, but those last 4 cameras represent 80% of the total number of photos, so I still have a long way to go till I am fully caught up.

How do I motivate myself? Honestly, I find it quite an enjoyable process – especially during long winter nights when there’s little real-world wildlife to go in search of. So long as I stay organised and clear about what I’ve done and what’s yet to do, then I don’t find it a bind. I have a sheet – a kind of to do list – where I keep track of what is finished. In my case, since I file my images in folders of a thousand, I tick them off as I complete each folder; but equally you could keep track by date or trip.

Apart from the simple motivation to tick another folder off the to do list, there’s additional incentive as I watch my ‘observation counter’ increase on iNat. As your total gets to 4,900, for instance, that gives you an extra push to get it up to 5,000 – at least if you’re as fond of round numbers as I am! I also check the ‘league tables’ of observers for various countries and regions. I’ve gradually climbed to being the second most prolific observer for the county where I live. For Madagascar, where I also spend a lot of my time, I was in about 15th position a few months ago and have now edged up to 8th place. I find all these little real-time statistics give me the impetus necessary to get started on uploading the next batch!

Lastly, I would say thinking carefully about optimising one’s workflow helps enormously with turning this potentially tedious task into a fun one – not to mention reducing errors. I am sure you have good reasons for working with video rather than photos, but that does sound to me like that could be part of the reason your own process is less streamlined and thus less motivating. As others have suggested, frame-extracting apps might help with that if you find one that suits your needs and is speedy to use.


Phone is too slow to take photos.


You may already be aware of this, but just in case…
Screen captures from videos are invariably of lower resolution than single shots of the same subject with the same phone or camera. That’s just the nature of the difference in video settings versus still photography on most devices. It’s something to consider if you’re uploading images of smaller subjects like insects, flowers, plants, etc. Having previously waded through a lot of low-res screen captures of birds, etc., I’m not a fan of the methodology. It might be sufficient to allow IDs of anything bigger than, say, a cat or dog, but the smaller the critter (or plant), the more the need for the highest resolution possible. And video just won’t offer that.


500 shots to go through today, and it’s just April! I agree with others, better take phone shots with torch on than screenshot videos.

I recently finished 8 weeks of reviewing and putting species IDs on ~300,000 camera trap photos. This was work-related. As you likely know, camera trap photos aren’t always the best … blurry, bad light, distant or obscured subjects. So I feel the pain of photo review. Thankfully the most I have to review from my own camera is a few hundred on a good day of nature viewing and I strive to get decent shots while I’m taking them.

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Nudge, nudge. I have this week’s hike to sort and upload …

I practice Transcendental Meditation, and it makes life so simple, including playing around with Nature’s beautiful diversity and related activities.

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