Helpful Tips and Resources for Beginner (Plant) iNatters



First impressions matter.

iNaturalist isn't just a website to post your observations, but a community of people. It can be daunting at first, especially if you don't know the hidden manners and norms. Lots of people will post observations that will never get identified due to minor mistakes, and many get a bad impression and leave.


These images show some common hiccups with rookie users (I'll go over these in detail below): bad photo exposure, unfocused/blurry pictures (though this one can be persistent—my camera focus is evidence), taking photos of cultivated plants, unaware that they should be marked captive/cultivated and that iNaturalist is focused on wild organisms (this can frustrate people when their observations get marked as casual), taking photos of the whole tree/plant, but no closeup of leaves/flowers, By the way, these are all my photos from old observations. I was once one of you!

However, get past the newbie troubles, and you will find a knowledgeable and welcoming community, and a powerful tool that could change your life! This is here to help you get a good introduction.



Making observations count: https://bushblitz.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/BackyardSpeciesDiscovery_Factsheet-2_Make-your-observations-count.pdf
Getting Great Plant Photos in iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/abisko-plants-and-phenology/journal/17621-getting-great-plant-photos-for-identification-in-inaturalist

These two are probably the most useful in my opinion. Some other resources (I'll probably add more):

Official iNat guide: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started
Random Tips: https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/5360-tips-for-making-inaturalist-observations



I've noticed a lot of common errors by users that eventually dissuade them from using iNaturalist. For the sake of all of us, I'll address them below. Fix these hiccups, and I guarantee you will get more ID's and enjoy iNaturalist better!

1: Taking pictures of cultivated plants—without knowing the norms for that

This is probably the most common. People will take picture of ornamental flowers in garden beds, planted trees, potted succulents. That's completely fine! Sometimes I'll find an interesting cultivated plant and want to know what that is. With these plants, however, you should mark them captive/cultivated, so that they'll be casual observations. iNaturalist is focused on wild organisms, and a plant in a garden placed there by a human is not Research Grade material. If you're confused on what counts as captive/sultivated, iNaturalist has definitions and examples here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#captive
In terms of identifying that unknown plant in your garden, you can always use the iNat AI. You just won't be able to verify those observations with other people, since most identifiers don't identify Casual observations.

2: Photos for the same plant spread out in multiple observations.

Unknowing users who take multiple pictures of plants (which is good!) often post each photo in its own observations. I don't understand why. Maybe they aren't familiar with the system, or don't realize they can put multiple photos in an observation. Whatever the case, I'll just say that in most cases, if it's a photo of the same organism, put it in the same observations. Sometimes I'll even put photos of groups of organisms together, (multiple violet ruellias that are near each other, for example) as long as they appear to be the same species .

3:Blurry/Unfocused/Overexposed photos

While technically there's nothing wrong with these, it is definitely a lot more difficult to ID things if it's hard to make out details.
In terms of blurry/unfocused photos, there are some ways to deal with this. If the plant is moving due to wind, let that die down before taking a shot, of if the wind is relatively weak hold it with one hand to keep it steady. For plant parts that are just fine and thin, which will cause the camera lens to focus to the background instead of the foreground, you could put your hand behind the plant so it focuses closer up (or use a piece of paper, or a notebook). If you know how to manually adjust your focus, that will also help.
Sometimes an plant will be contrasted (maybe sunlight hits some leaves but not others, or half of a flower), and that'll cause the camera to adjust the exposure to either the bright area and make everything else really dark, or to the dark area and make the bright area really bright. I make sure to keep my lighting relatively even (all bright under sunlight, or all dim). If I have a problem with exposure I'll usually huddle over a plant with my shadow so that the light is all even.
As for taking pictures at night... I got nothing. Someone help me out here!

4: Photos of the entire plant (the whole tree or bush), but without any close-ups of leaves or flowers

For identification (at least for plants), you'll need close, clear images of leaves and flowers. Overall images showing the entire tree are usually not useful. Sometimes it can be helpful (for distinguishing the multi-trunked Ashe Juniper and the more tree-like Eastern Red Cedar, for example), but most of the time it is not necessary.
Another note: Some plants require more specific features to be identified. You can usually figure that out by asking around the community or checking identification guides—here's a hub for some of those.

If an user corrects you, or marks a observation casual, don't take that personally! Most of them are just trying to help you learn these hidden "rules". Usually when I correct users or point mistakes out I make sure to keep my tone friendly so you don't misinterpret my feelings. Others might not, and tone can be hard to convey in just words. Keep that in mind!



A good way to learn how to make good observations are to look at other people's observations. After all, there are plenty of veteran users who have stellar observations!
Make observations wherever you can—walking to a class during school, around the parking lot of a supermarket, etc. The more observations you make, the more experience you'll get.

About geoprivacy obscuring observations (If you want to obscure observations near your house, for example): https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#geoprivacy
Info on how to use Google Photos to back up photos: https://www.businessinsider.com/google-photos-backup
I suggest downloading photos from Google Photos onto your computer, and then uploading them, as iNat can be fussy about Google Photos sometimes.

I also suggest that you do not start identifying plants until you are well versed with them—say maybe 100-200 observations.

I implore anyone who read this to share this with anyone who might find these tips handy!

Adapted from another location for convenience






Αναρτήθηκε από arnanthescout arnanthescout, Σεπτέμβριος 25, 2021 1059 ΜΜ

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