What's your image editing process from raw image to iNat

Import digicam files into Lightroom → culling, hierarchical keywording → cropping/levels/balance/whatever → export to jpeg (via Exiftool, for metadata sanitation + location obfuscation) → web upload.

Why the screenshot? Why not just drag/drop the edited image (saved on your computer)?


That depends largely on how much effort I put into the photo and how satisfied with it.

For a photo like this, it’s literally just:
1: Take photo
2: Crop
3: Post

For something like this or this, my process goes something like:

1: Take photo
2: Crop
3: Add “clear” filter using Line Camera to make everything pop and look more crisp
4: Make minor color and/or lighting adjustments on stock iPhone camera roll app if needed
5: Post

I have been shooting primarily in RAW for a few years now. Being a Canon and Windows user, I use Digital Photo Professional to do basic editing(cropping, white balance adjustment, etc) and resizing to a JPG less than 2048 in the long dimension for iNaturalist purposes. I usually add a simple watermark using Windows Paint. My workflow is not conducive to high volume output, probably exacerbated by working with an older laptop that takes a while to process images. As for color spaces, it really is a giant rabbit hole to jump into. I have worked almost exclusively in sRGB as it is the de facto web standard and that is what most Windows boxes work with by default (my laptop doesn’t even support 100% sRGB). Macs and phones often can technically support a wider gamut than sRGB in hardware (usually something close to DCI-P3), but at least in the past it has been a bit of a minefield on what color spaces were supported on a OS or application. My limited experience with trying to get scans of old photos done on an adobeRGB Windows system to look right across multiple systems was a real obstacle course. Perhaps it will work better in the future. For now, I keep the raws and export to sRGB.

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iNat reduces the resolution more if I drag the raw file out of photos into iNat than If I screenshot the raw file and drag and drop the resulting screenshot

I use the Photos app on my Mac also, but then I use Export Photos because it maintains all the metadata.

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does it not lose quality?

“A lot of folks like to boost the contrast, and sometimes that’s effective, but I often find that reducing the contrast is useful of you have a lot of variation in lights and darks in the image. Reducing the contrast a little can help to bring out more detail in the darker areas without imposing grain or adding other weird effects. Either way my contrast adjustments are rarely more than 10-12 plus or minus.”

I totally agree about contrast. Less is very often more. I usually look at what does to a photo but if I accept the overall look it gave me I do often knock the contrast back a bit. One thing I find is that auto contrast tends to give an impression of better sharpness. I know it’s only an impression but it does seem to improve the overall look without over-doing it…

I fully agree. It is so very subjective .Everyone’s view of the world is different - eg I wear prescription glasses that have a coating that makes them go darker in the sun so I don’t need sunglasses. So photos I have taken on a bright day look too bright to me because I saw the scene through the slightly darker lenses.

That’s super helpful, if only just to let me know I’m not the only one struggling with it!

It does not (you can chose the quality to export).

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I use a number of features in Raw Therapee (portable version). Then, I use Paint . Net for some further tweaking. I don’t adjust the color much except for maybe adding a slight golden overlay for winter shots.

There are a number of good tutorials for Raw Therapee in YouTube. I watched a lot of them and then made up my own list of features to apply to an image.

I find that using a RAW file format gives me more details for insects.

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I shoot with a couple different cameras… DSLR, underwater point-and-shoot, phone. The latter 2 shoot in JPG and can embed GPS information automatically so I don’t usually need to do any processing for them.

For the DSLR sometimes I shoot in JPG and sometimes raw, depends how much I care about having good photos of the subject. I record GPS tracks with a phone app and then use Geosetter to add the location info to the photos. I use IrfanView for raw conversion, sometimes minimal edits as well. It’s just the fastest program I’ve found for sorting and converting raw photos.

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I shoot only RAW on my Nikons. I keep trying Adobe products and I like Lightrooms organization tool and geotagging tools, but their image processing is far slower and inferior to other software, in my experience. For the past few years I’ve been using DXO Photolab as my main RAW processor as it has, to my eye, by far the best RAW developer and it also doesn’t make my laptops fans start whirring over nothing like Adobe does. It lacks good digital asset management features but it has enough for my needs.

I make a folder for the calendar date on which the photos were taken (eg 2024-02-05) and copy the photos into it from my card. Before importing images into DXO, I use the open source Darktable software to add tags to my photos, as well as geotag them using this method. I’ll then go through the photos and cull them, marking bad ones as rejected and deleting them from my computer.

After cropping and making small exposure and color adjustments, and somtimes using DXO’s “Prime” denoising, I’ll export as a 2048 px jpeg if the cropped photo is larger than 2048 on the longest edge.

Then, unless the photo is really something special, I’ll delete the original RAW files as well.

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I enjoy the process of taking photos more than editing them, so I keep that to a minimum. I always shoot on the highest resolution possible, in JPEG because I don’t care for fine-tuning past what the Google Photos app can offer, and I take 2-4 photos per scene to multiply my chances of a good shot. My priority is identifiability over quality, but I prefer to have both over either. I crop most photos into squares since that’s what iNat likes, pull the “HDR effect” slider to a maximum of 75%, correct brightness, white point, black point and shadows. Then onto the next photo :moyai:

I used to transfer photos taken with my Sony Cybershot directly to my laptop’s hard drive and edit them with the Windows Photos app, but that may change now that I can plug my camera into my Pixel 7.


I don’t have a camera so I just take photos on my phone, and modern phones do a lot of processing to the image before it even comes up to the screen to make them look prettier so for iNaturalist purposes I don’t do any “artistic” editing. I crop to the relevant parts of the image in the photos app, and very occasionally tweak highlights/shadows or brightness/contrast if there are identifying features that can be revealed. Then I upload from the iphone iNaturalist app. I keep the photos app open and swipe back and forth to see what I’m uploading next and making adjustments to cropping, etc. and to see the timestamp on the photos. For some reason, iNaturalist won’t automatically take the timestamp from the metadata, although it has no problem with the gps location.

I got a clip on macro lens recently so I might need to start editing those photos a bit more, since I’m quickly learning that this type of photography is a bit different from just pointing the camera the right way and hitting the button like I’m used to.


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