iNart: Artistic iNat Observations?


In the past few months I have been attempting more “artistic expressions” with my iNaturalist observations. Some of these have been more performative attempts such as limiting myself to a 60 minute bioblitz of a park (how many species/observations can be made in a given time), uploading every photo taken of biodiversity without any edits or deletions, or attempting to explore places such as industrial or interior environments where fewer species may be found. Another thing has been making Instagram Reels of my adventures and using the type of music I generally Jive with rather than the typical music one might associate with “nature Videos/photos”. Example: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CQ68CJuBuef/?utm_medium=copy_link

Yesterday I purchased a lens Adapter that allows me to use vintage lenses from my old Canon A-1 (FD lens mount) with my new Canon 90D (EOS or EF/EF-S camera mount). Looking forward to testing my old lenses out with a more “aesthetic” look for observing things.

The lenses I will be testing are:

  • Canon 50mm

  • Canon 35-105 Zoom (with Macro)

  • Canon 135mm

  • a 2X telephoto converter

I look forward to the results but curious to know if anyone else on iNat is using a similar set-up or attempting an “Artistic Approach” to documenting biodiversity in the modern age? Maybe you’re referring to iNat observations for your own art in some way?

Also, request for an “Art” tag to be added to the forums.

#iNart

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Do you mean the whole process as an art? Or just photos? Cause there’re thousands of pro and semi-pro photographers on iNat, so definitely many (no matter what their status as a photographer is) think about their observations that way.

Well I suppose I’m interested in others approach that goes beyond simply taking photos. What “extra” is in the observation process. We often don’t hear the story behind the process simply by seeing the images.

Still gonna try to answer both questions because I like them, but can’t add a lot to the matter of artiscit process.
For me that’s a very hard question, it’s like if all is art or nothing is, I know which photos of others I can call artistic, but for mine it’s a task that I can’t complete with ease. I always try to make the best shot possible if I feel like theoretically it can look good, but how it ends up as a shot? Not really something I decide. In the end I feel like I’m observing in two parallels of not being artistic and being bound to the rule of thirds forever with no ideas or seeing how something would be a cool surreal painting, but not a photograph. Looking over someone else’s photos it’s clear that in wildlife photography art is very limited, it’s very hard to find a good scene and conditions that would create something out of boundaries, I’m far from that level.





About process and gear, hm, now I use nikkor 105 2.8f and 500 5.6f, I like 24-70 a lot, but have no camera for it now, though it doesn’t have anything really artistic in its image, no “cool vintage” bokeh or anything, but a good lens for iNatting. Idea of a short bioblitz is a good one and realistic (shooting NEF without edit is not a good idea, uploading all the blurry pics sounds bad for iNat servers), would like to read what others do of similar fashion!

I like your video because it really made me feel like this bobcat is gonna sacrifice myself to the gods tonight, lol, never looked at flowers with heavy music, definitely a new experience.

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Thanks! I totally agree with you on always aiming to get the best shots and it’s always nice when you have gear that provides awesome colours and details. It’s not always possible to get a decent shot that’s in focus and highlights the subject just right. I’m yet to have a “perfect blitz” without having to delete all of the blurry images, landscape shots, or random photos my binoculars take when they hit my shutter while hiking. I made one video to show all of the photos taken while out on walk one day. I posted everything to iNat that could be identified and scrapped images that were blurry, too dark, or didn’t meet the iNat standards. This was a bit of that “story” I mentioned previously about the experience one might have while out trying to make observations.
https://youtu.be/8qu9H_TZyFc

I am curious to know if people go out simply to record audio. I don’t really have the proper gear at this time but one day would like to give it a shot. Soundscaping I would consider to be another form of art. Another could be a casual observation with a detailed story in the notes/comments about something.

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When the opportunity presents itself, I try to take photographs from angles or perspectives that are more “interesting” to me than a straight-on view. Some examples:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/85906496
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/82846489
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/77372583
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/71845406
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67200311
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/62197737
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/58658473
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/52823586
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/52755408

I consider an artistic iNat photo to be one that is taken with something else in mind besides just getting the organism documented or to capture critical traits for identification.

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Once I sketched a detailed map with a planned route before exploring a part of my city, and made a cute checklist of common plants to observe on the route, also with some sketches (it was something like art-journalling, I suppose). It was a nice experience, I’d love to do it again in the future.

I like the idea of iNat performance art, and I love the idea of approaching restrictions like art rather than ‘challenges’. I’d love to hear about your experiences, and it would be nice to try something similar. I agree about the tag,

By the way, my favorite artist here on iNat is plantsoncolors (I hope the photographer doesn’t mind me promoting his work here, I hope the pictures could maybe inspire other people). The criteria of the pictures being art for me are 1) the intent, and 2) they make me feel something. After looking at the pictures I’m often inspired by the colors and the composition and I want to also create something beautiful, or recreate the feelings on paper.
They are also high quality photos of plants, so it is easy to ID them :)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/79154443
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/63589145
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/83884997

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My list of favorite observations is very short because of this. I currently have 8031 identifications, which means that the number of observations I have reviewed is probably around an order of magnitude more. My list of favorite observations currently stands at exactly 25, of which exactly 1 is one of my own observations. And here is the reason:

I grew up with pretty books. The Wonders of Life on Earth, a publication of Life Magazine. Other book series from the same publisher, i.e. the Life Nature Library, the Life Science Library, even the Time-Life Encyclopedia of Gardening. The exquisite, color photos in those books set the tone for my expectations of nature, the world around me, and the photography of it. So although I will gladly ID any observation that I am able to do, I only “fave” the ones which I feel would be worthy of appearing in a book like those.

Most of my observations could be called “artistic”, I suppose. When I first discovered iNat, the entire reason I wanted to join was that it combined two of my already existing passions: science and photography. While I will sometimes take pretty basic photos just for the sake of ID if the conditions aren’t right (poor lighting or a fast-moving subject for example), the photography aspect of things has been one of the more rewarding ones for me.

I initially started out with plants. I still do love photographing them (see this recent fleabane I spotted for example), I’ve branched out a lot recently to things like insects or even the occasional amphibian or mollusc on the rare occasion that I’m able to spot one. ^^

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Regarding old lenses: my experience has been that lens technology has improved dramatically. I’ve used some older lenses in the past, some of them pretty well regarded, and was uniformly disappointed. If you enjoy things like blurriness, color fringes, vignetting, and barrel distortion, your mileage may vary. :-)

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My first macro lens was this decades-old manual Nikkor macro lens, which I adapted to my Canon 60D. While not up to recent macro standards, it’s still really sharp and a great cheap starter lens for those getting into macro.

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I absolutely love seeing artistic photos, beautiful shots, often with unusual lighting or angles. Truly. However, something that makes we reach through the internet and shake somebody is the absolutely beautiful flower picture with no associated leaf picture that I need for identification. So do take lovely photos – but also add another photo with enough information for us to apply a name confidently. Please.

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