Basic suggestions on how to photograph molluscs for iNat

Some species of molluscs can be easily identified by a photo taken from almost any angle, but in most cases you need to see the mollusc from several angles or from some specific angle. Therefore, it is always worth taking more than one photo in each observation, even if only from slightly different angles, which will at least allow a better assessment of the shape of the shell or body of the mollusc.

If you find a snail with a relatively flat or low oval shell, then after taking a photo, you should at least turn the animal over and take a picture of the shell from the opposite side as well. It is also better to take a third photo "from the side", better with a clear view of the aperture of the shell (the opening where mollusc pull in). A simple example of an iNat observation.

If the found snail has a relatively high "elongated" shell, then the most important thing is to photograph it so that it is turned with the aperture (opening) of the shell towards the camera and so that the axis of the shell is parallel to the lens and the shell looks as straight as possible, not tilted at an angle. If it is a living snail that has not hidden in the shell, then it is worth pushing it a little carefully so that it is pulled inside and at least the inner edges of the aperture can be seen, many species have there specific structures ("teeth"). A simple example of an iNat observation. In more difficult cases, such as with species of the family Clausiliidae, a good view of the interior of the aperture may be required, for example like here.

If you find a terrestrial slug that does not have a shell, it is important to take a photo of the animal from the right (!) side so that the location of the breathing opening (pneumostome) in the right front part of the body is clearly visible. It is also highly desirable that the entire back of the animal is clearly visible in the photo. It may not be superfluous to additionally turn the animal over and to take a photo from below. A simple example of an iNat observation.

If the mollusc found is bivalve, then you need to take photos from all sides. After placing it on a relatively flat surface (for example, the palm of your hand), take a photo exactly "from above". If it's a single empty valve turn it over and take a photo "from below". Then take a photo exactly "side-drawn" from the side of the hinge (which fastens the two valves). If these are empty valves, then it is worth taking several more detailed photos around the hinge from the inside. A simple example of an iNat observation.

In all cases, it is much better if there is something for the scale in the photo, which will allow to accurately estimate the size of the animal. For example, a ruler.

Many modern smartphones have a separate macro camera, which, however, may not be "visible" for the iNat application. Therefore, if you happened upon a relatively small mollusc, then after taking a photo with the main camera, switch to the basic smartphone camera application, use macro mode and take several additional photos and add them to the observation separately. At the same time, in almost all cases, when taking macro photos with a smartphone, it is best to use the constant illumination mode. This, of course, is also relevant for all other small organisms.

When searching for terrestrial molluscs, you should pay attention to wet dead wood lying on the ground, even wet discarded boards. If you turn over a log or other piece of wood, you can often find slugs and small snails on the back side. Many molluscs live in leaf litter and turf where you can often find a great variety of very small snails (from 1mm) if you just bend down and look carefully. Such species are quite rare on iNat, probably because they are difficult to see standing or crouching down a bit. But if you bend low, or especially lie down (for example, by laying down a ground pad), in habitats where small plant remains accumulate, you can easily find many species that can be identified by normal macrophotos. In the temperate regions most of these small species are in broadleaved forests, but there are also many in various other habitats. For example, small snails of the genus Vallonia (as well as some other molluscs) are easy to find in very various habitats: gardens, parks, any deciduous or mixed forests, in natural and semi-natural grasslands, etc. (but mostly not on open ground, not in fields, not on very sandy soil and not in Scots pine forests). A simple example of an iNat observation in a home garden and another one from there.

Posted on Μάιος 04, 2023 0843 ΜΜ by igor117 igor117

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