Atlasing, the process of finding and photographing animals that interest you, and uploading your records to atlas databases, is great fun and becomes an obsessive pastime for many people. Here are some suggestions for software and mobile device apps that will make your experience more rewarding and enjoyable, and will help you be a better atlaser.
image management software
Once you start building large library of digital images it can become difficult to manage all those images, and to find the specific ones you want at short notice. Picasa and Adobe Lightroom offer great image management facilities and are worth looking into. Probably one of the most powerful features is that you can tag images with a number of tags, such as locality or species names, and then later search for images with specific tags. Both packages also offer geotagging facilities, where you can add coordinate data to the images and plot them on a map. Together with the filtering capabilities, you can quickly produce point maps of your records for particular species or genera. Picasa is freely available and is intended mostly for image management with limited image editing facilities, while Lightroom is paid software and has good management and editing capabilities.
gps and navigation apps
Essential for any atlaser are good mapping, GPS and navigation tools. Google Maps and Google Earth provide excellent tools for planning expeditions. You can find potentially interesting habitats using satellite imagery, roads and tracks to areas you want to visit. You can mark potential points to visit and have them available later on your mobile devices, or you can export KML files for use with GPS apps in the field. GPS Kit is an excellent GPS app for the iPhone and iPad. It operates very much like a handheld GPS but has excellent additional functionility, like Google Maps backgrounds, and easy text entry. You can store waypoints in groups (eg for a particular trip or holiday) and it gives basic compass navigation to waypoints which is very useful for finding sites, or even tracking back to individual spider burrows. GPS Essentials offers similar functionality to GPS Kit for Android device users.
note taking apps
A large number of note taking apps are available for mobile devices and potential users should do a little homework to decide which suits their needs best. One that is worth looking at is Evernote. It allows you to organise your notes into notebooks so that you can keep your spider records separate from your other notes, or keep notes from particular trips or projects together. One of the nicer features is that it automatically backs up your notes to the cloud, so you don't have to worry about losing your data if something happens to your device. Just note that you still need to keep coordinates for the sites you visit in your GPS app. Even though Evernote does record coordinates it hides them from you if it can use a place name instead.
photo uploading apps
We are currently working on an app that will allow you to upload images to the virtual museums directly from your mobile device. Watch this space.