iSpot Team's picture

iSpot Photography Guide - feedback is welcome

After feedback and queries from users about the best way to take photographs to upload to iSpot we have published a photography guide for using digital cameras:

Taking digital photos on iSpot

Please feel free to leave feedback here about the article or about any other information that you would like to see in the guide that isn't in there.



Red Kite's picture

Uploading images

Two points of concern:
1. In many images the focus is poor.
2. Some which I have uploaded have been badly cropped e.g a landscape shot ends up as a square.

I have done the T189 Photography course, and work with images a great deal for web-based viewing.

I value my work being reproduced as near the original image as possible, and feel that this is just not the case.

June Atkinson BA (Open)

Observing Nature lifts the spirits!
Caring for our Red Kites is a privilege!

miked's picture

I would agree that the point

I would agree that the point of focus is poor in some images, I have mentioned how difficult it can be to persuade compact digital cameras to focus where you want rather than where it wants even though they are capable of focussing in the correct place. The issue here is keep trying and checking the image on the camera screen and zoom in on this image to make sure it is really focused correctly. It is very easy to think you have got the picture only to find its horribly unsharp when you get home and check it on the computer.

"Some which I have uploaded have been badly cropped"
The full image is there but its only available when you click on the image in the observation, you can then see it in full uncropped on a separate page, you can also zoom in on it there.
The square crops are a function of the current design, this will be changing over the coming weeks, I am not sure what it will eventually look like, it is up to the designers.

DavidHowdon's picture

Out of focus

Although part of the point of iSpot is for people to get help identifying things they have found so insisting on good quality images seems to slightly miss the point.

Perhaps there is a distinction between images uploaded 'for ID' (which should be the best image people can get but still poor if that is all they have managed to get) and photos uploaded to illustrate useful ID features on an pre-identified species (in which case good quality photos are needed).

Cornflower's picture

Size of Image

I know the guidelines suggest just uploading the full image straight from the camera, but I would still welcome clearer information regarding file size.

I have a 4Mp camera which I usually use on the highest resolution. I have been reducing my files to 800x600px/around 250K when uploading to iSpot as I feel this gives a good balance between detail, size on screen and download time.

I think some actual numbers would be useful (for those that know what they mean/want to understand better) in the digital photography guide. Why have to wait for a 5Mb image to open larger than most people's screen sizes if there is nothing to be gained from such a large file?

OU Graduate (at last!)

miked's picture

As soon as you start giving

As soon as you start giving guidelines for filesizes it starts opening a bit of a can of worms. There are several issues to consider, these include:
1. how to make it easy for users, many of which won't know how to deal with images to make them suitably smaller.
2. how to give guidance across all types of taxa and cameras. For some things great detail is needed if you want to get to species level whereas for other things its ok to have less detail. The quality of some images is rather poor perhaps due to camera shake or small depth of field or other reasons so there is no point in uploading a large file.
3. you can always not download the full sized file and just look at the lower resolution one.
4. as you say the very large files do take a long time to download if you don't have full broadband (which I don't at home) and can be completely impossible if you have a very slow connection.
5. cropping the image to show only the key features can easily cut the filesize by half or more but you may not be sure what the key features are.
6. I tend to crop and reduce the filesize of most of my images but there are one or two that I have left at full size because I don't know what the key features are and think that any expert may want to zoom in considerably to see the fine details.

Don't know if this is of any help but I will think about what to say about filesize in the guidance. What do you think would be most useful especially for the majority of users who don't know about image editing and may not have dedicated software to do it?

DavidHowdon's picture

Reducing picture size

Personally I'm not in favour of being restrictive.
As I understand it iSpot generates a small image automatically so those without broadband can presumably just use that.

If you do want to give guidelines I would suggest making them precisely that, guides, and not imposing more restrictions on what people can upload.

There are, I understand, online tools to which you can upload an image and have it resized. Don't use them myself (and so cannot give you a URL) but perhaps providing a link to such would be one way to make it easy for those not technically literate to shrink their pictures.

Martin Harvey's picture

online image re-sizing

I've used "ResizR", which seems to work well:

No doubt there are others!

Entomologist and biological recorder

iSpot training's picture

test - please ignore

just testing

Matt Smith's picture

Files sizes

I find the biggest problem with the uploaded photos on I-spot and other sites is that people sometimes reduce them to 600 x 800 sized images before uploading them. This means that there is almost no "zoom" possible, and going in for a closer look results in pixelated photos of no use to anyone for ID purposes. I have 12mp camera that generated files of between 1-2Mg or more - if I am posting an observation I tend to upload the whole photo as is, or only crop the original image slightly before uploading with the largest file size possible.

Simple answer - tell poeople to upload what they have and not worry about file sizes, let the website deal with that.

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Refugee's picture


I Crop images if the surroundings are not part of the subject. My best example is drone flies hunting for a winter retreat where the cave they were in has railings stopping me getting any closer. A large area of limestone would have been a waste of time. I cropped it from the images using the image editor that came with the operating system i use.