Organizing Trail Camera Photos Quickly and Easily

It happens all the time. I sit down to look through all of my trail camera photos, only to realize the mass disorganization that has overtaken my files.

I have one picture of a doe and a fawn feeding on a mineral block in the early spring. The next picture is of a fox poking its head out of a den, followed by a photo of a whitetail buck visiting a scrape in October. Twenty pictures later I find myself looking at the same doe and fawn back in the spring feeding on the same mineral block.

I have subsequent pictures from various locations and random species of wild life all throughout multiple times of the year. The thought of spending hours organizing trail camera photos and relabeling them one at a time, feels as hopeless as trying to coral a flock of chickens in an open meadow.

The key to organizing your trail camera photos is to take just a few minutes each time you download your photos to label them and place them in the correct folders.

Why Trail Camera Photos Become Disorganized

Having cluttered files of photos is not a sign of laziness, or even a sign of lack of organization skills. The fact is that in today’s busy life style we just don’t have the time to organize files the way we wish we could, and most of the disorganization is to blame on the camera itself.

When trail cameras takes a photograph, the file that holds each individual picture is labeled in numerical order, in the sequence they were taken. For instance the first picture that is taken is labeled IMG_0001 and the 400th picture is labeled IMG_0400. The problem occurs when you begin to combine files from the same location. Every time you upload a SD card there is undoubtedly an IMG_0001 image. When that new image gets combined into the same folder with previous images you now have multiple images with the same file name, and the computer renames the image IMG_0001-2.

Over the course of a few months you might have 20 images that have the same file name, with different suffix numbers. The computer will automatically reorder pictures by file name, causing the sequence of photos to be intertwined with various dates and locations.

Most Important Trail Camera Setting To Help Keep Photos Organized

The most important factor in keeping your photos organized is to make sure that your image stamp on you camera is set to the right date, time, and camera ID. When organizing your photos, knowing exactly the correct information makes life a lot easier.

I often fall into the trap of thinking that I will remember what location each photo was taken or that I didn’t adjust the time for daylight savings. Helpful hint: I never remember.

Understanding the amount of photos you will get, and the camera modes are also an important factor of keeping up with organization. If I am placing a trail camera over a bait station or mineral block in the early spring, I should be aware that I am going to get a large quantity of photos in a short period of time.

I would need to adjust my camera to this specific circumstance. I wont need to use multiple photos or multi burst to capture images. The animals I am going to attract will likely stick around the site for long periods of time, allowing the camera to take enough photos without needing to clutter the SD card with rapid pictures, eliminating the need to delete mass quantities when uploading photos to my computer.

Choose How You Want to Organize Your Trail Camera Photos

Now it is important to choose how you want to organize your photos. Do you want to view them strictly chronologically, or by location, or are you trying to photograph one specific animal? Answering these specific questions will help determine what I should name my files in order to keep my photos organized.

For instance, if I am trying to photograph Fluffy the black bear, I will make a folder labeled Fluffy. Or if I wanted to organize my photos from the family farm, I would simply make a folder for that situation as well. How ever you want to view your files, and what is most helpful to you is what is important.

Uploading Photos Your Trail Camera Photos

Now, that you have folders set up, you have pictures taken, and you have an idea of how you are going to organize your photos, it is time to upload your pictures from your SD card.

When uploading, be sure to always create a new folder for what you are uploading. This way every picture from the new SD card will automatically have a label with the exact same as the file name. So if your goal is to take pictures of fluffy, and you upload your pictures to a new file created family farm, when you ultimately transfer photos to your Fluffy file, it already is labeled with location, saving you the time of relabeling it in the future.

Organizing Trail Camera Photos

Before transferring all of our photos into our organized files, there are a few tips that will save you a tremendous amount of time.

  1. Display all of your photos using the largest icons or thumbnails you can. This allows you to sift through all of the photos without having to open each one individually to see its contents.
  2. Use your computer to arrange all of the photos for you. You can set your arrangement to do a number of things from date, time, and tag, allowing you to order the photos in what ever manner you would like before setting the final label on your photos. This will give you all of the information that you need. The file at this point tells you the location, the arrangement tells you the date, the photo time stamp will tell you everything else and all you have to do is fill in the content in the label.
  3. Be sure to mass delete. While you are looking through the photos, delete all of those that you will have no need to hang on to. They will just take up more space on your computer, and create more clutter than you need. If you have a series of photos that you want to delete, you can use your mouse to highlight them all and delete them all at once. This will save you time from having to delete each one individually.

Relabeling and Transferring Your Trail Camera Photos

You have all of your new folders set up. The new images have been uploaded and you have deleted all of the unwanted photos. The last thing you have left to do is to put the last label on each photo and transfer it to its final destination.

Relabeling photos can be as detailed or as vague as you would like. Using our example of using the family farm as your original file name you could simply place a sequence of numbers after the name (familyfarm 01). Or you could place the date, and exact location ( family farm apple tree 1-1-2018).

I recommend that after each photo you relabel, you transfer immediately. If you open both files, they can be easily transferred by clicking and dragging them to the new file. By doing it this way, you are eliminating the clutter immediately, and keeping yourself confused as to which files you need to transfer later on.

The entire process of relabeling and transferring photos into their final files, shouldn’t take any longer that 10 minutes for every 100 photos. And 10 minutes is all it takes from having a disorganized mess, and turning it into a filing system that is easy to navigate.

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