Web bulk uploading from another time zone

Hello iNatters,

It’s been a while since I’ve been overseas in another time zone, and, in the meantime, iNat has changed the way it does things. I am using the web uploader to upload my trip photos. In the old days, I would change my iNat account time zone to the time zone where I’d been, then the web uploader would use the date and time in my photos and assign the correct time zone to them. (If I forgot and kept my iNat account time zone as my home, the dates and times would get interpreted and scrambled.)

Now the dates and times get scrambled by the web uploader regardless of what time zone I have set in my iNat account settings. I’m wondering what workflow others are using now.

To clarify in case I’m not clear, here’s what’s happening, by way of example of one photo (but I’ve got hundreds to upload).

The photo has its datetime observed as 17 Apr 2022 12:12:47 PM, and the time zone as -10:00

Out of habit, I changed my iNat account time zone to the time zone where I took the photos (Hawaii -10:00), but this didn’t end up changing what the web uploader did.

I drag the photo onto the web uploader but it shows the datetime as 2022/04/18 10:12 AM

I’m doing this from New Zealand (+12:00) and the web uploader must know that the photo was taken in a -10:00 time zone (from the EXIF) but is then deciding to add 22 hours to the date and time from the photo because I’m uploading from NZ. Confusingly, the uploaded photo then shows “Apr 18, 2022 1:12 AM -10:00” on it, so that’s the -10:00 time zone but with date and time adjusted to the New Zealand time zone.

I’m not sure if this is a new feature that I haven’t wrapped my head around, or a bug. I’m thinking it’s a bug.

There’s now an Offset Time option in the web uploader where, if I notice what’s happening, I can manually correct the dates and times on a batch of photos. That works, but I’d need to remember to do this for each batch I upload. I worry that I’d forget.

The iNat web uploader seems to be using my computer’s clock to know that I’m in New Zealand. When I change the time zone on my Mac to Hawaii time, and restart my web browser, the web uploader then shows the correct datetime for my uploaded photos. No offset required. And the uploaded photo then shows the correct datetime and time zone.

So, for now, I’m keeping my Mac’s clock set on Hawaii time until I’ve finished uploading my trip photos.

How is everyone else doing this when they upload lots of photos from an overseas trip?

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Tony said the uploader doesn’t use EXIF time zone data:

I’m not totally sure how the web uploader is supposed to work currently, but you can try going over what Tony said here (and the two follow-up posts) and see if you think it’s working as intended.

To be honest, based on what he said I thought it was supposed to just slap the time zone of the coordinates (in this case -10:00) onto the EXIF-acquired datetime (in this case 17/04/2022 12:12 PM), but that wouldn’t explain why changing your computer’s time zone has an effect…


In theory your local time settings should not affect the time the uploader uses. That should come from the photo and the coordinates. Can you share the original photo file so we can try to replicate this?


@jon_sullivan Discourse strips metadata from photos, so you’ll have to email it to us at help.

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Thanks @kueda and @tiwane. It’s good to hear that you’re puzzled by this too. Perhaps it is something odd with the photo. I just got the camera (a waterproof Nikon W300 that includes an internal GPS). I’ll email through an example photo to help@inaturalist.org.

Not sure if this is related but on my camera (Ricoh K-1) the EXIF tags DateTimeOriginal and DateTimeDigitized can be very different (the “-0800” is presumably added by iNat from their server’s timezone, GMT -8). The first appears to be the date & time on the camera’s clock at capture whilst the second is adjusted to UTC using info stored in EXIF tag 0x9012. So the actual date & time recorded by iNat may depend on the tag ID from which the value is extracted.

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My camera is set to UTC. Somewhere on the website, I said that my timezone is UTC, too.
That worked well till 10 April.
The observations after my Easter holidays show “CET” both for the time of the observation and the time of upload (uploaded 20 April or later) when I look at the “my observations” page, though the observation time is actually UTC, and the uploaded time CEST:

Oddly, on
the uploaded time shows as UTC (with adjusted value, and this time correct!), while the observation time now shows as CEST (with the same UTC value still).

=> there are some general time zone issues, not necessarily in the uploader

If you’re referring to list view on the Explore page, there’s a known bug with displaying the right standard/daylight time zone: https://github.com/inaturalist/inaturalist/issues/3002

When I go to your actual observation pages, eg https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/113008887, I see CEST for observed on time zone:


So I think everything is good there, as far as observed-on time goes.

Thanks for the files, Jon. I was able to replicate the problem and there was definitely a bug, but only in cases where the Uploader itself failed to parse the date from the photo for some reason and had to fall back on the server… which was parsing the date correctly, but when it returned it back to the Uploader, the Uploader wasn’t respecting the time zone from the server and was displaying it in your local time zone. I still don’t understand why the Uploader wasn’t parsing the date from your photos since it seems like you have the tags it’s looking for. Maybe an encoding issue?

Anyway, try it again and let me know if it’s still not working.


Phew! That is much better. Thanks! Now, regardless of my computer’s timezone, the Uploader is grabbing the datetime as it is from the photo, and assigning the time zone appropriate for the location. Great!

Thanks for looking into this and fixing it so quickly.


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