Tips and tricks for marijuana plant photography

Published Feb 17, 2019 11:29 p.m. ET

 Marijuana plant photography is popular for several reasons with the biggest one being curb appeal. Everyone wants the most appealing bud, as the overall look is often associated with overall potency of the plant.

Marijuana viewed with the naked eye

On the outside, a cannabis plant is visually appealing. Usually a bright green with colorful hairs and covered in crystal. Most marijuana users like to see what they are about to smoke. Sometimes something as simple as a well-lit photo can entice a person to seek out a specific strain as the visual appeal is a significant portion of the experience.

Marijuana close ups

If you want to get a little deeper into the universe that’s hiding inside of every bud, then close up shots may be more appealing to you. Using even the most basic microscope will reveal a forest of hairs, pistols, and trichomes. The most potent weed under a microscope will have a visible amber colored liquid that appears to coat the pistils. It’s a big, strange, and beautiful world just beneath what the naked eye can see.

Tips & tools

1. High-quality camera

Since your camera is going to be your most important tool, it is essential you choose one that is up to the task. DSLR cameras are the most expensive camera option and are the most recommended for taking crystal clear bud shots. They do however come at a cost that isn’t affordable for everyone. A DSLR camera features a wide range of settings that can be manually adjusted including shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. These extras are necessary if you want to be able to work within various darker lighting scenarios. If the DSLR is a bit out of your price range, there is another option which is using the highest quality smartphone you have access to. Believe it or not, most newer phones have better cameras than you could ever buy in the same price range. While not ideal if you have a 9-megapixel camera or higher it should get the job done.

2. Choosing a background

The general rule is that it is most aesthetically appealing when a photograph contains as much greenery as possible. Watch for things like mirrors or lights as they may create a haze that dulls the end result. This is especially important for marijuana close-ups as you will want the focus on your trichomes. The background should be a complementary color that helps to blend the bud into the background. White is usually the cleanest and most widely used because it is simple, but various green tones behind a giant bud can work nicely too. If you are photographing an entire plant than a white background will bring out the features of a plant from afar.

3. Always use a tripod

One of the most significant contributors to blurry marijuana plant photography is an unsteady hand. Even the steadiest of hands can slip which could lose you that perfect shot. When choosing a tripod to purchase, make sure that it is stable and that all buttons on whichever device you are using are accessible. You will also want something with adjustable legs that includes the ability to set the exact angle, so you can take scaled back photos or shrink right down for a marijuana close up.

4. Lighting

The quality of the lighting used can make or break a photo. Flash from behind is always preferred, but if you are using a lightbox or an adjustable light than you will want to angle your light facing away from the camera while still focusing it on the bud. Flash is preferred because when timed correctly, it can make bud shots shine by illuminating and reflecting off of the sticky resins that cover a marijuana plant. Freestanding lights can give a softer lighting effect, so which you choose should depend on the results you are looking for.

5. Macro weed photography

For this kind of marijuana close up you will need something stronger than your phone. Macro marijuana plant photography is done by capturing up close and in detail bud shots that focus on the smallest of details including the pistils, hairs, and trichomes that are found on the surface of dried marijuana flowers. You will need in the very least a DSLR camera with macro lenses or a microscope that has a backlight and a high definition camera. These photos are most often sought by those who are interested in the anatomy of the cannabis plant.

6. Editing

While it is always best to catch the cleanest photo possible when taking the initial shot, editing can come in handy for making small tweaks and adjusting. The best editing software will be computer-based and will offer slides to make it easy for beginners to change the clarity, highlights, shadows, and saturation of a photo.

Now you are well on your way to perfecting your marijuana plant photography skills. Marijuana photography can be for anyone and is not limited to those with prior history or experience with photography especially if you start with the right tools. It can be a relaxing hobby, and an exciting new learning experience rolled into one.

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