Optimizing photography/cropping/iNat workflow

I spend a lot of time flipping through different apps (camera, cropping in photos, then iNat) when making observations and I’m wondering if anyone has found ways to optimize this process? I’ve outlined my current and desired workflows. My desired workflow involves a redesign of the iNat app so it isn’t likely in the near future. Does anyone have ideas (maybe combined photo/cropping apps, photo apps that have the focusing options set as default, or a nice Shortcuts script) on how to optimize workflow in the absence of an iNat redesign? I find manual focus, focus peaking, and cropping indispensable and that’s the primary reasons I need a separate camera and cropping apps. I use iOS.

Current workflow

  1. Open camera app (halide at the moment)
  2. Turn on manual focus
  3. Turn on focus peaking
  4. Adjust focus and lens and take photo, repeat for additional photos
  5. Open photos app
  6. Select photo
  7. Click edit
  8. Click crop
  9. Adjust cropping
  10. Click done
  11. Repeat entire process for next photo
  12. Open iNat
  13. Click observe
  14. Click photo library
  15. Select photos
  16. Click add
  17. Continue with iNat

Desired workflow if iNat app was redesigned

  1. Open iNat
  2. Click observe
  3. Click camera
  4. Adjust focus and lens and take photo. Manual focus and focus peaking were already activated, because I selected them as my default in the settings.
  5. Once I take a photo there are 4 options: “crop photo”, indicating the photo I took was good and I want to crop it, “retake photo”, “photo is good and I want to take a photo from another angle”, and “finish shooting photos”. These additional pro options are present only because I selected them as default in the settings.
  6. If cropping is selected, adjust cropping now
  7. Click done, taking me back to the screen with 4 options
  8. Click “Take another photo” or “finish shooting photos”
  9. Continue with iNat

i think this would be awesome but given iNat is always understaffed for the usage level and even just redoing the iPhone app to basic functionality has taken years and still hasn’t happened… it seems unlikely. But i’d love to see cropping and basic annotation like a little circle for where the organism is, within the app… Maybe an option for a crop and also to retain the original photo.


You can just take photos with your camera and after a while open your photo browser and share the photos with the inatapp which are good enough. croppng should be done in the photobrowser i think


I don’t seem to have the option to share photos to the iNat app. It’s not in the iOS share sheet in the Photos app. How do you do it?

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yeah i’d love to see that functionality on the iNat website too. For me, i am not (or at least very rarely) going to use additional non-inat software to edit photos for a whole bunch of reasons

In recent weeks I’ve just shifted to uploading on laptop (via iCloud) as it’s so much quicker for bulk uploads. The app is only really useable for an observation here and there, otherwise it’s a bit of a time-waster.

Curious what Halide is like.


Do you need to ID everything you see as you see it? I prefer to take as many photos as possible during my outing, then at the end of the day I process all the photos, upload, and then ID them. This saves a lot of time vs stopping to identify each observation.


Hi Garlicdog!

That’s a good idea if I’m not keying at the same time. I had gotten into the habit of doing it one by one in the app because I was doing plant ID for my job and was using iNat machine learning to help me key out species in the field by suggesting a genus.

I upload photos to MacOS and process them there, so I can’t really offer any advice for your particular workflow. (I shudder to think how much work this would be on iOS.)

@markg729 I’d love to hear your comments re the Halide app. I suppose a separate thread would be needed for that. If you don’t have time, that’s fine.

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Honestly I find uploading tedious enough in general that I end up procrastinating until my phone storage is full and then have to spend a bunch of time uploading hundreds of observations… It is much nicer with the iPhone app since it automatically gets the location precision from photos, and in my experience with the Android app you have to do that manually for every observation.

I like Halide. It has a nice user interface and offers manual focus and focus peaking which are invaluable. I really wish it could open with those two options already selected as that would save me a bunch of time. The other feature I keep wishing for is automated focus bracketing/stacking. There are apps that do bracketing, but I think stacking can only be done on a computer at the moment. It would just make macro photos so much better. The super narrow depth of field is quite limiting.

i often forget which thing i was focusing on when i do this, so it’s not something i do. And yeah, i find it tedious. But a lot of others do use this approach, i’ve been told i’m a much more app-heavy user than most. I also don’t have a very good computer or any cameras other than the iphone one

I’d like to add crop/rotate functionality to the iNat app eventually, but I think adding things like manual exposure and focus and other niche settings is likely not worth the development time. FWIW, in the current iNat iOS app’s camera you can hold down on the screen to lock autofocus and auto exposure, which is helpful for macro work. Then you just move the phone until your subject is in the plane of focus.

As for the import/upload part, the upcoming app has a much better flow for importing a batch of photos and separating them into observations, and should support share-to-iNat from your Photos app as well.


Thanks for the update. I’m looking forward to trying the new app! The hold-to-lock AF doesn’t do much for me. It’s too hard to see what’s in focus and what isn’t on a small screen. Hence the focus peaking.


Ah, makes sense! Yeah, focus peaking is pretty rad with MF.

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My current workflow is (after a day/session of inatting multiple observations):

  1. SD card into my laptop
  2. drag photos I want to add as observations into photo editing app
  3. crop photos/change lighting etc.
  4. note down all ID’s to best of ability
  5. bulk upload and add in one go.

A post was split to a new topic: Question about new app

I don’t know if iphone supports this, but as android user I connect my phone to PC, download photos from phone, next filter, crop and upload via web. Especially because I also use DLSC, so I have to convert raw files from camera to jpegs, track them and next upload in one queue with images from phone.

I am just about sure that I have cropped photos in the iNat Android app. I have to add them to the observation first, then click on them from within the observation before completing the upload. Unless I’m misremembering something…

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I take all photos off iNaturalist, just on my phone’s camera. Then I crop, edit and whatever else all on the photo’s app on my phone.

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