Seeking observation workflow suggestions from Nikon P900 to Mac to iNat

I’d appreciate suggestions on how to improve my workflow for generating observations, please. My currently workflow is:

  1. I take most of my photos for observations on my Nikon P900, which has a built in GPS.
  2. Then I take out the memory card, stick it in the card reader on my Mac laptop, and import the photos into the built-in Photos app on the Mac.
  3. Then I view them one at a time, cropping those I want to use for observations (the originals are too large to upload to iNat).
  4. Then I select edited images, export them to a folder, and
  5. drag and drop them onto iNat’s web uploader (no more than 50 at a time) and
  6. group them into observations.
  7. In most cases the date/time and location tags from the camera are maintained, so I only need to add an initial taxon to each.
  8. Then I hit upload and
  9. repeat steps 5-8 until all the chosen photos are observations

What, please, could I be doing differently to make this process less time consuming? I’ve found that the amount of time I spent in the field is about what is required to make the photos into uploaded observations. I often go out and take enough photos for a few hundred observations in a day, then end up uploading none of them because I don’t have time. Steps 3 and 7 are the most time consuming, but the number of steps and the need to repeat them is certainly part of my problem. I’d like to hear if anyone has suggestions on how I could be doing this significantly faster, please?

Thank you.


You can’t do anything different in those steps to avoid losing quality, you can e.g. use presets for all of your photos to shorten the time of editing. But with that ot with anything else time to snap a pic will always be much shorter than what you spend on full uploading process. It’s normal to not upload everything right after, I usually end up editing 6-12 months after I made photos, but it’d be a pity if didn’t upload them at all. Plus you have location from the get go, and it’s a thing that takes the most of time.
Do you export all of them at once? I think it makes sense if you’re going to edit the whole batch at one sitting, but editing particular objects and exporting>uploading them when you have time will garantee you have something uploaded, also it takes out a buren of editing hundreds of photos at once.

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When I used a P900 I also had a phone with an SD card slot. I would just put the SD card into my phone and crop photos there, then share them to the iNat app one observation at a time. No import or export time required, and the one-by-one method is surprisingly nimble as it avoids the total bog-down that happens when you drag and drop dozens of images into the desktop uploader.


My workflow is nearly identical to yours. I use an iPhone so the import process is a bit different.

I do view each photo one at a time to decide which photos to upload, but why crop each one? I only crop the photos that need to be cropped (which is relatively few of them).

Certainly the initial ID takes time but it’s an important part of the process. I don’t see how that can be avoided.

That’s not my experience. A good day is 70 observations of 50 taxa. A very good day is 100 observations of 70 taxa.

I usually upload just one observation of each taxon the first time around. Then I upload the duplicates during the winter months. This has numerous benefits.

I think that’s the answer to your question. You take a lot of photos in a single day! Phew!


I agree, the only step that jumps out to me here to improve is not cropping every picture. If cropping isn’t needed for the ID, don’t worry about it. iNat will downscale the pic to iNat’s max resolution fine.

It sounds like you have a good working system for location info, which I think is the most important thing for efficiency.

One other approach that you could try is taking a device in the field to use with the app, which is potentially faster on a per observation basis than with a camera. For plants and other organisms where optical zoom isn’t needed, this could be faster. You could then just have a subset of pics to do with your current method.


I also crop a lot of photos. The inbuilt Photos app on Mac is not a great tool for cropping. You need to go through several clicks and drags every time you want to do a simple crop. One option for you might be to upgrade to a better app. I have recently started using Lightroom Classic and it is so much better than Photos.


I’ve been waiting for a question like this. I used to try to think of ways to streamline my process, but I decided I like it a lot. At Step 3, in Apple Photos I enjoy reviewing my field trip while cropping and rotating (for some reason a lot of my closeups are upside down) and I add “captions” (Apple Photos term) that will export as “description” in the iNat upload page. At step 5, grouping photos for an observation, I consider whether my photos did a good job of capturing key features, or could I have done this better? I use iNat’s CV to see if my field ID is confirmed, then I hit upload, then in “edit photos” I click through them all again to add phenology annotations and make sure everything is in order. The memories and the learning process are a big part of iNat this way. I think you’re doing it right!

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My process is very similar. You can save a lot of time if you don’t have to crop every photo.

  1. Shoot photos closer up if possible, so they don’t need to be cropped.
  2. You say the photos are too big to upload without cropping. Do you mean the filesize is too large? If so, when you export them from Photos, there’s an option to export them as smaller files. So you shouldn’t need to crop them just to reduce the filesize.

Ah yes, @tony’s suggestion is good. I forgot to add that when I Export from Apple Photos, I choose a custom “dimension” limit of 3000 pixels (it probably could be less).


I use the P950 And have a similar procedure, but I do not have to edit the photos anymore which makes life much easier! I believe I changed to jpeg and medium quality to achieve an image size that iNaturalist will accept. I can now go through the photos quickly just punching cntrl+s on the ones i want to keep and then upload. I don’t see any quality difference at resolution. Of course there are always some that I want to crop though.


That’s not saving time, he would need to export them again at normal size for storage, that’s x2 time instead of doing the crop that takes less time.

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I use a Nikon P900 which I bought to replace my P600 as it had GPS. Most of my steps are similar to yours. I have my photos set to Fine (best) on the camera. I usually take about 150 in an afternoon but with the likes of mosses, I take 3 shots at least of each moss. I upload the photos to my laptop into a folder and then view them in Windows photo viewer as it has an easy to use zoom. I delete those that I don’t want and make a note of the number of the photos that I want to crop or edit. For this process I use Fotor which will also keep all of the Exif data.
When I come to upload, I upload in batches of the same area as then I don’t have to zoom in too much to ensure that the location is accurate. I find it quicker to upload in smaller batches than in larger. I go through and do all of the identifications and add any notes to an observation, then I go back and do all of the locations. Then submit.

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My process is pretty similar: take photos, sync to PC and quickly review to delete the crud, open Darktable and crop as needed, export to folder. Then upload to iNat from folder (sorted by date).

Only thing I do different is just upload them all, iNat automatically breaks them up into groups of 50.

That maintains metadata, allows for post-processing if really necessary (exposure, contrast) and keeps image quality in tact while sorting my photos by date so I can reference the cropped photos later if needed easily.

I’m not sure that’s necessary. At least it’s not part of my workflow.

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Tony wrote about is. Make the photo so that you do not need to crop was one of his tips.

  1. Then I view them one at a time, cropping those I want to use for observations (the originals are too large to upload to iNat).

Well, if you think your photos are not worth being saved in normal resolution and won’t ever be used in publications, then yeah.

After hearing some of the comments, I should probably add an extra step to the OP’s list of actions to clarify how my workflow is different:

  1. Delete the JPEG images exported at step 4

There’s no need to keep the exported images since they can be re-exported (or exported with different options) at any time. This extra step does not speed the process but it certainly does take much less space.

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As a final step, I nearly always upload my iNat bound JPGs to albums in Amazon Photos (unlimited free storage) for future sharing with others. It’s often easier to find stuff in albums based on social, not taxonomic labels.

@Marina_Gorbunova , I think what @trscavo is referring to here is that in Apple Photos the original is kept in the Apple Photos file, so the scaled-down version that’s exported and then submitted to iNaturalist is just a temporary step and can be discarded. The original is still there.

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This is pretty much what I would do if I had a GPS-enabled camera. I use DXO Photolab for photo editing and culling, but Photos does all the same basic stuff.

I do find the cropping tool in Photos to be frustrating, though - you have to drag from the corners and can’t just draw a rectangle free-hand, and after you drag one corner, the image resizes before you get to the other corner. :rage:

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