Life Hacks for naturalists

I arrange the bits of plant to support each other - say to get the face of the flower level for the camera to focus. No not just the edge of that petal …

Metalasia muricata. Top 2 photos are ‘macro in a mason jar’ with the flowerhead resting on 2 twiggy bits. The leaves (which you only run your hand down once) are important for species ID.


Forgive me if I go slightly off topic, but I’ve been thinking about hacks in general (I generally think too much!). They are all wonderful examples of function over form. We could all go out and buy what we need, but hacks take the concept of what a person wants to achieve and finds a way to make it happen.
Some old-timers may have read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” which discussed it at some point. The author/protagonist always tried to maintain his Cycle himself, and once he wanted to help out his friend by making a ‘shim’ for a bolt from a beer can. Soft, malleable and the correct thickness - a perfect solution to his problem. The friend refused to put a beer can on his high end Cycle, and only wanted the correct parts from a dealer. The former is function over form, the latter form over function. Personally, I live in the function over form world. I don’t care what things look like, as long as they solve my problem.
And that’s all I have to say!


Why I hate the thought of a camera without internal flash…

Note also the quick locks. They can be used with normal neck strap or attached to straps in my backpacks. No neck strain with the latter.


I actually made up my own.


How to trick your camera into focusing on plant details.
No fingers!

I carry a card - fits in the pocket of my camera case.
Comes from a ‘blonde’ cereal box. No idea there WAS a pattern there till I photographed it. See what’s in your recycling box …


That reminds me…
I duct-taped an umbrella to a cheap lawn chair so that it opens above my head. Then I draped camo over the umbrella.
It is a quick and dirty (and more importantly comfortable) blind that I use to photograph birds and other critters. I put cushions on the seat too to make it even more comfortable.


I often use a harness with a backpack–no problem. Unless I totally forget and try to take off the harness without taking off the backpack first. :grinning:
It is actually a lot more comfortable than it sounds and it lets me take more supplies with me than would normally be possible with just the harness.


I got an osprey talon 33 , along with some peak design clips and straps. Haven’t yet figured o- and ut the best combination - the 300 mm Nikon Lens + Camera I use is the heaviest drag - so still figuring the best method to reduce the weight.

And I agree I also forget to to remove the backpack before off loading the “lighter” gear. Sigh … live but still not learning.


Fine sorting, manipulating, pointing pin (probe) hack made using a mechanical pencil and a pin for those doing fine work under a dissecting scope.

I’ve used a no.2 entomology (insect mounting) pin here but a no.3 pin does work as well (possibly preferable as the grip will be tighter).

Remove the pencil lead and select your no.2 pin:

Place your no.2 pin in the top of the mechanical pencil:

Adjust the amount the pin comes out of the mechanical pencil in the same way one would adjust the lead:

Hey presto

I picked up this hack in conversation at the WaspID 2023 course (Kendrick Fowler)