Tis the season... for Bob's free image rescue (advent calendar edition)

Hey everybody. Since it is December tomorrow, I thought I would offer a few little ‘forum stocking stuffers’ for all the great people here, in the form of an offer to do some photo triage/rescue on shots that you love, or have special attachment to – or ones that just don’t have enough in their current state to make it through the ID stages.

No promises on the success of that, of course. The last round when I did this (when I first joined) brought out a few unbelievable challenges, that were pretty hopeless, but overall, I think most people were happy with the offered results.

So starting tomorrow, I will try to take on an image a day to fix up until, well, I’d like to say Christmas, but I have to travel so I’ll have to cut it back to Dec. 20. So the first twenty requests (one per member, please) I will accept and if I have more time in my schedule, I’ll let everyone know.

You will need to post the images here (preferred) but if they’re already up on iNat, just give me the link to your observation. If you’re curious, I use a suite of image enhancing tools (and a good bit of experience) that hopefully will make everything more merry and… bright, or dark. (A lot depends on the exposure problem.)

Extreme blurred images (like nothing but big fat blobs)? I wish I was Santa, but I don’t have that kind of magic.

The more resolution the better for submission, the jollier the results. And of course, if you have your actual camera file to share, that’s the best. (RAW? Gold!) I’ll do my best to sort out your worst.

AND… please don’t think that I only want to work on trying to find detail in very low-resolution zooms, or over-exposed shots. I’m also able to repair many other problems including UNDER-exposure (or too dark – these are actually more hopeful pixels to work with!), or slightly out of focus. Or maybe you have a killer shot that is just a little too soft on the focus. Wouldn’t it be nice to see it all sharpened nicely? Or colour problem? Wrong lighting? I would just like to see variety and if you have something new, even better. I encourage you to give it a shot and test me.

Preemptive happy holidays, iNaturalists!

Because I am working on these images that you post here as attachments, and not as the original, to achieve the best results, please be sure that the image size is as close to the iNat image size cap of 2048 (longest side) pixels.

This holds particularly true for any image that you feel contains something you want enlarged but is just a small bit in the original shot.

FOR THESE TYPE OF IMAGES, please crop the original file (if you still have it) so that no side of the image is greater than 2048. This way I will have the best chance of working out good results.

If you don’t know how to crop an image, let me know and I’ll walk you through it on a free photo editing site or with software you probably already have. Thanks!


How about this rather blah photo of a bird, taken from 30m away at night lit only by my flashlight? It isn’t just blobs, but it could certainly use some magic.

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This may be hopeless.
Observation (includes circle for target organism and story): https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/142452043

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Any chance you and your software could merge 2 images - poor man’s focus stack? I can email full res versions if you prefer.

Hello dlevitis!

Thanks for participating. You are the first! Let’s see what we can do for this one…

So starting from plain eggnog:

We will just add a little rum enhancement…

Violas! (I hope you like it because I didn’t keep the receipt.)


I was looking at this again today and thought… hmm, IDers deserve presents too. Maybe I should have pulled the reeds lighter for better visibility. Like this:


Thank you!


Also, is rum enhancement what happens when you drink rum and all of a sudden all your photos look amazing?


TRIAGE NO. 2: Do you believe in Miracles? **
Or… I wonder where the lions are?

[sorry, famous Canadian folk singer plug]

Yikes! This is really Santa-Claus magic country. But… I will show you what I learned from this.

First off, the actual lion body is about 25 pixels square. (Not a threat to Super Mario).

But I agree that ‘something’ is lurking there, not just in the behaviour of the animal but in the pixel pattern.

So I zoomed in and analyzed things.

That’s what that zoom was, scaled up 3 times without anti-aliasing (which just means, for the purpose of display and comparison, I enlarged so that each pixel became 3 pixels wider, 3 pixels deeper (or 9 pixels). I did this so that you can compare this with my final at the same screen size.

And I have no problem imagining that’s a big cat, Pixelated, but a big cat.

So I used Gigapixel to enlarge this 300% and did a little tweaking after in Camera Raw to remove a slight greenish edge ringing and to contrast the tones better for ID and this is what I got:

Does it enhance the evidence? Hard to say. Still a very small 75 pixel image. But you can see that the algorithms pulled out the neck, back and that tuft of tail.

FTR? I did not use any ‘brush work’ on this to isolate or enhance specific areas. Entirely done with filters.

So sorry that this is as close as I can get to a Christmas miracle with so few pixels to play with. But that doesn’t mean you should stop believing!

Great story by the way, really enjoyed imagining that adventure. Something to tell the grandkids, as they say! Cheers.


Thank you so much! I didn’t give you much to work with at all. My Christmas miracle is being able to suggest the evidence is plausible for big cat. :grin:

I’ll link to your work in the observation as potential supporting evidence.

If you are able to do this one. It is an otter in Scotland to the right side of the left tree. It is the only photo where it actually showed up.

Thank you!

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Do you mean something more akin to First Aid or, perhaps, Cosmetic Surgery?

I thought Triage meant sorting into injuries into 3 categories to allocate scare medical resources sort of like:

  1. Will likely die no matter what: tag DOA, go on to the next victim

  2. Injuries survivable if treated immediately: Tag FIRST, get to work

  3. Injuries survivable, but can wait for treatment: tag SECOND, go on to the next victim

Anyhoo, it’s always fun to see these projects. Thanks for sharing thusly. :)

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Would it be feasible to try to pick up the image of the hawk in the cypress in these two pictures (sort of center)? I could see it clearly with binoculars; in that light, it had an unusual reddish-cinnamon color.

Or, are these 1) DOA, move on to the next victim? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

This shows my not-to-successful attempt to bring out the image on the iPhone Photo app.


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D’oh! You’re (of course) absolutely right on that! Thanks. I’ll edit the title to correct.

Any chance you have the original picture files for these? They already looked very processed.

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Could you improve this in any way, so that the owl doesn’t look so much like a glowing orb? :sweat_smile:

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Since I use my phone to photograph, my bird photos never turn out clear. This is one of my less blurry bird pics, so I’d appreciate if you could improve it.


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Well, I’d processed them, then chose Revert, as that should restore the originals… however they were way zoomed in (15x). This is a photo at the natural distance.

No worries if you triage these as hopeless, DOA. :dizzy_face: … prolly best to move on to one that can be saved.

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RESCUE No. 3: Will that be one wasp, or two?

This probably should have been a DOA. A good merge with just two images is pretty tough. Especially when you have things like limb movement going on.

So I had to do put in some brush work. Sorry, but this is the best I can do within reasonable time constraints.

It does show you though how quickly a little ‘AI’ can start to guess its way into something that’s not there. I can’t even be sure of my results if I didn’t mess up a leg or wing, but FWIW:

ORIGINAL (at least one of them):

And my tweaks:

May you have better luck with a red stocking. Cheers.


That’s cool, thanks for the attempt. I think it looks nice!

I’m sure I can dig up more pictures that need help if this thread slows down :slightly_smiling_face:


This was done using a phone camera with a 50x magnifying loupe taped to it. Problem is, the flash tends to kill the shadows so you can’t really see the lobes of the phyllaries, which are pretty important for ID. The back of the flower should look a little bit more like this. Could the details on those phyllaries be improved? I know some basic photo editing from a high school photography class but couldn’t fix it up much.

I use the flash to “force” the ISO and shutter speed on my camera up to reduce noise and motion blur, but because it’s so close to the plant it also blows out all the details. Maybe I should tape over my camera flash or something…
Oh yes the tiny depth of field and ghostly luminescent white orbs are also a result of this “macro setup” of mine