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Photos and Media

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to identification of climbs - and understanding beta - there is nothing quite like a photo or video.

For climbs, any photo is better than no photo. This is because even with very detailed descriptions and beta there is still more mental overhead and uncertainty involved in identifying a climb or climbing area when connecting what you see with what is written.

Identification Photos

photo example

Identification photos are photos of climbs or areas intended to illustrate identifying features of the subject to aid with navigation, and to get an idea of the beta in your mind ahead of time.

These photos need not be works of art, and indeed are best when they are simple and to the point. Multiple identification photos from different angles are better than a single one, and any is better than none. Phone snaps are ideal for this purpose, but even a sketch on a piece of paper is better than having nothing to show.

Not all photos need to follow along these lines. It may be best to have multiple photos satisfying a handful of guidelines each.


Hipster whale, Danger Zone, Rocklands

Lighting example

Photographing routes can often involve complex lighting, making the process of capturing the route difficult. Crags in shade, boulder routes in caves that top out in broad sunlight, these are difficult conditions to work with. The above photo is an example of how these difficult conditions can make it nearly impossible to take a clear photo of the route.

Ideally, it is best to make sure that your picture of the route makes sense. Sometimes an appropriate effect can be achieved by taking multiple photos. For cave shots, it may make sense to take photos of all the parts, and one of the whole - this way climbers can put the images together to get a full picture in their mind of the route. If you do decide to do this, remember that it is important to capture the route in its entirety in at least one photo (if possible), as these photos are useful when navigating.

Ideally your photos should be exposed for clarity.


Routes don't exist in a vacuum, when capturing images of a route it's best to include identifying nearby landmarks if possible. This speeds up the process of navigating to and recognizing the route.

Some photos may be intended to illustrate something very specific, but in general a wider shot showing the subject in its environment will be needed at some point.


People can give a route or landmark scale, and inclusion of subjects does not disqualify an identification shot. Once again, if the only shot you have has a person in it and the climb has no I.D photo, it is okay to upload it.

Ideally, human subjects should be used to show scale and should not occlude the climb or area in question


This is the important bit. Photos in the OpenBeta data set need to be tagged with a climb or area for them to be usable to the rest of the community.

Tagging can be done to uploaded photos on Open Tacos, and allows your uploads to be seen by other climbers who are interested in the climb or area you tagged.

If it is not tagged, it cannot be used as an identification photo.


Photos in OpenBeta do not share an homogeneous licensing type. We encourage contributors to upload Identification photos as CC0 - as it creates the strongest forward-facing dataset for future climbers - but we advise contributors to license photos that have artistic or commercial value to the creator to understand the consequences of using CC0.

Even though we encourage it, you do not have to yield licensing if you don't want to. You will be given the option to withhold licensing if you would prefer, but it limits some of the ways in which your contribution can be used.

Non-identification Photos

Some media doesn't make sense for Identification, but may serve some purpose not mentioned here or may simply just be a good piece of media. If you snap a really cool photo of your friend, OpenBeta is still interested in contributions of this type.

Photos of this type - especially if taken by a professional - may be best with an ARR license. OpenBeta has an interest in linking together all kinds of media, but we insist that photographers consider carefully the licensing they want to make use of when uploading to OpenBeta.