I love taking photographs of cannabis plants, simple as that. Sure, it goes along with the job of writing books and magazine articles, but it’s a special treat none-the-less. Photographs tell a thousand words, as the saying goes, and they allow us to chronicle our plant’s growth and to capture unexpected moments. For me, it is these unusual and unexpected moments — maybe a plant’s first flower or ten year old bag seed unexpectedly bursting forth – that supply the special joy. While it is fun to photograph our ladies, there are legal and safety considerations that must be faced.
For instance: A friend recently compared his fine buds with those photographed in a glossy magazine. “Mine are sweeter, plumper, better-formed,” he claimed. Knowing his fine work all too well, I didn’t doubt him, but I did ask, “Have you a photo?” He didn’t. He does not document his growing, fearing he’ll leave a trail of evidence — something that could create trouble with authorities if his cell phone is inspected during any routine procedure. Something as simple as a minor traffic violation, or security check at the airport, could fast become complicated by drug-related imagery.
He has a valid point. If you do live and grow in a region where it is illegal to propagate cannabis, then photographs on your cell phone (or stand-alone camera) could definitely be troublesome. In some countries it is illegal to possess images, books, or even magazines about cannabis.
Before you undertake any thoughts of photographing your plants, do check the law. Confusion can even arise in legal territories. Rule of thumb: don’t store photos of cannabis on your cell phone — or on any camera, for that matter. (See the sidebar for a practical and secure work-around.)
On the other hand, the benefits of photographing your grow, (so long as you can do it securely), are many:
Overall documentation for future grow reference.
From germination through early growth, vegetation, flowering, and budding a photographic reference is a wonderful thing to have. It will assist you in mastering your craft by creating a visual data-base. Something you can build and add to over time. It will allow the comparison of attributes between plants of the same strain and plants of differing strains. For serious growers (breeders), a photo-log is invaluable for keeping track of phenotype variation and development. It shows differing first-leaf formation on two plants of the same strain. The individual growth patterns of both plants will be worth documenting.
Pest discovery and control.
Pests can be sneaky and small. Tiny little buggers often evade the naked eye until infestation becomes over-whelming. Photography allows you to zoom in very tight, often capturing single pests before they can become a problem. Photographing leaves from below with the sun penetrating for illumination is great way to locate early invaders. Some visitors are friendly, however, like the ladybug
Comparison of training methods.
Photography is handy for keeping a track of varying grow methods and the differences you will encounter between these. Compare a regular “Christmas Tree” grow to one that is staked out, Your records will, over time, reveal the best methods for allowing light into flowering zones to maximize bud development.
Timing of harvest.
Harvest time is often decided based upon trichome color. These little globs of goodness change from clear to whitish, and then golden as the buds mature. Growers can harvest at varying times in this color cycle, but normally wait until most of the trichomes have become white and have begun to turn golden. Whatever your choice for the ideal moment to harvest, photography is a great way to have a good look at these trichomes. It’s easier than using a loupe. Simply take a close-up photo of the bud, and then use the zoom function to get in real close.
Capturing unusual moments in the plant’s life.
Growing always throws up surprises. Sometimes they may be visual confirmations of strange characteristics — or freaky-ness — that you’ve only ever read about. For instance, shows a branch that has grown as a mysterious fork — like a two-ply electrical cord. Not an every-day occurrence. It’s great if you have a camera ready, so that you can record such strange and unexpected things. This is one of growing’s true joys.
Secure Photography — The Basics
Secure photography requires a dedicated camera and a memory card. By dedicated, I mean that you will not use either for anything other than cannabis photography. You will not take the camera on holidays. You will not take it to a sporting event.
Obtain a good camera, preferably a 35mm style body with a good lens. Your photography should be crisp and high-definition. A good camera is also a joy to use, and that’s vital if the process is to become an integral part of your grow style. Your photography must be a fun component of your grow and not a burden.
The memory card is important: get a big one. Photographs take up a lot of memory. Treat it as a separate hard drive. It is to this that you will save all your photos. It is to this that you will do all editing, all cropping, all treatments. By following this rule you will never have any tell-tale photos remaining on your camera, or on your computer. The memory card is easily stashed away, safe from prying eyes.
Best buds always…
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 132