How to Log High Quality Observations

As part of this BioBlitz, you're helping take real scientific data that can be used for future research. What follows are a number of ways you can improve your data and make it more useful.

1). Take great photos!
This is by far the most important thing you can do. Without a photo, no one can verify your observation, and it will never be research-grade. Even a blurry or distant photo of an animal or bird is an improvement and better than nothing.

Take several photos too! Try to capture different views or perspectives, and be mindful of capturing the characteristics important for identification. For plants, I often turn over a leaf so the underside is showing, or take a photo of the flower, and another of the leaves, or one of the whole plant.

Ideally, you should try to make sure your subject is in focus and well-lit. This can be difficult for small organisms, but without sharp focus, it's tough for others to tell what you found.

Tips to get good quality photos

  • Putting your finger in the photo often gives the camera something to focus on, and can help you get sharp focus. On an iPhone if you touch and hold the area with your finger, the camera will focus-lock and you can then remove your finger.
  • To ensure even lighting and less shadows on a sunny day, use your body to shade the observation.
  • Get closer! The closer you are to your organism, the more detail you'll have in your photo. Note though that most cameras can't focus closer than 3-12 inches away.
  • Some examples here: Take better photos on iNaturalist

2). Provide accurate GPS coordinates
Rough locations are good, but precise GPS coordinates are better. If using a smartphone, make sure you keep an eye on the GPS accuracy. Sometimes if you log an observation too quickly, or if service is poor, the accuracy can be very low. Be patient and try to wait until it's +/- 5-10 meters.

3). Give some sense of scale
For many organisms, size is an important identifying characteristic. Especially if you know size is important, try to take photos with something for scale. A small ruler is ideal, however a penny or other coin will do, or even your finger in a pinch.

4). Identify as best as you can
If you don't know what something is, try to identify it to some higher taxonomic group. For example, you can label it as Plants, Insects, or Birds. Doing this makes it easier for experts in those groups to find your observation and help you identify it.

5). Add notes
Especially if you don't have an ID for an organism, take notes about where you found it or anything else that seems relevant (eg. prevalence, phenology, associated species). For example, mentioning that you found it in a swamp can be very helpful in narrowing down an identification.

Posted by mickley mickley, June 03, 2016 14:24

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And if you like videos, check out

How to Take Better Photos for iNaturalist from iNaturalist on Vimeo.

Posted by kueda about 5 years ago (Flag)

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