NatureMapr Community Wiki

A place for the NatureMapr community to share tips, knowledge and expertise around the NatureMapr platform.

Tips for taking good photos for your sightings

Photographing plants

Check your photos immediately to make sure that important details are in focus.

There are very few species of plants that can be identified from a single photo. At a minimum, photograh the whole plant and one or more flowers and/or a fruit/seed cases and their arrangement on a stem.

It is good practice to routinely take photos of the whole plant, a flower front on, side on, and from the back, and how it is attached to the stem, front and back of a leaf, and the stem showing several leaves. If the plant has both flowers and fruit/seed cases, include both.

It is often possible to ID a plant when it has only fruit/seed cases and no flowers.

It is sometimes possible to ID a plant when the plant has neither flowers or fruit/seed cases. In those cases, as much other information as possible is helpful.

A macro lense or a macro attachment for your smartphone, e.g. OlloClip for iPhone, is extremely useful for showing details, e.g. of small flowers, stem hairs, and the reproductive structures in the centre of a flower.

It is essential that the field for plant height be filled in. Field notes recording flower diameter and leaf length of an average leaf are extremely helpful when the moderator has to use a plant identification key.

Take field notes of anything that strikes you as important e.g. flower perfume; smell of the leaves on your fingers after you have rubbed them; whether a leaf is rough or not when you rub it; sharp points anywhere on the plant; etc.

Shrubs and trees. A photo of the bark can be helpful in making an ID. 

Grasses and sedges. A macro lens is a necessity for identification of most grasses and sedges, particularly for details of the seeds, seed heads, leaves, and hairs on stems. For grasses, a photo of the membrane/fringe at the top of a leaf sheath, which can be seen when the the sheath is gently pulled away from the main part of the leaf, is helpful in identification. Some grasses do not have this character. A photo to show this is also helpful.

Orchids. Generally, a close up photo of flower is required for identification. The labellum (the 'lip', a modified petal) is often the most distinct part and can be important for identification. In some species (e.g. greenhoods/Pterostylis species, duck orchids/Caleana species, elbow orchid/Thynninorchis) the labellum is motile and can be triggered by touching it. If this happens wait till the labellum returns to the set position before photographing it. A photo of orchid leaves can also be useful in determining which orchid group it belongs. For Sun orchids (Thelymitra speces) a close-up photo of the column in the middle of the flower, which includes male (stamens in other flowers) and female (style in other flowers) structures is required, as is a photo of the leaf.

Upload photos of plants with pollinators twice, once as a plant, and once as a pollinator. Pollinators are usually, but not always, insects.

Photographing reptiles

Inside of mouth can help determine the species

Don't disturb or attempt to catch snakes as they are deadly. Stay completely still and let the snake pass if you see one.

Photographing fungi

Try to get photographs of above and underneath the fungi.

Use of mirror to capture underneath mushrooms.

Photographing insects & spiders

There are two main ways to photograph insects with a camera, using a macro close-up lens, or a zoom lens. If the insect tolerates your getting very close, then you can use the macro lens. For example, some moths will remain quite still when approached, believing they are camouflaged and invisible. However, many insects, especially those that can fly, will move away when you approach. This is especially true for insects like butterflies and dragonflies. So a good zoom lens is very useful for photographing many insects. 

If you are using a smartphone, then use a macro lense or a macro attachment. E.g. OlloClip for iPhone.

If you want to have an insect identified to species then clear photgraphs are usually needed, because minute parts of the anatomy may need to be checked.  For example, for some spiders it is very useful to have a photo of the eyes to help with identification. Many insects are have particular plants that they feed on, and they can be identified more easily when the associated plant is known. So if the insect is resting or feeding on a plant, take note of what the plant is or ensure that a photo shows the plant clearly.

Photographing birds

Birds are difficult to photograph as they are generally further away and move very quickly.

So a powerful zoom or telephoto lense is very useful for photographing birds.

Photographing birds with a smartphone is very difficult and only works when the bird is in very close range.

Photographing ferns

The key thing about photographing ferns is that you need to record reasonably mature plants. Small new ones with emerging young fronds are very hard to identify. Given a good specimen, try to capture the whole plant, a reasonable close-up of one of the fronds, and, most important, a view of the underside of a fertile frond to show the spores and any hairs or scales on the rhachis  and stipe (stalk).  This should be as close up as you can manage without blurring.  Geneally an iPhone or equivalent is quite sufficient to record the details needed for identification.

Last Updated By: michaelb on 18 Apr 2017 12:41 PM

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