After 3 years of honing my skills as a nug pornographer, I thought it was time to share some tricks of the trade. When I started out in July of 2010, I didn’t even own a camera. HR needed help, so I got a Canon Powershot SD980 IS and started snapping. The pictures sucked ass for several months, and I would take anywhere from 75- 100 nug shots of each strain to get 4 satisfactory photos. In January of 2011 I invested in a Promaster portable tabletop Studio, a recommendation from the salesman at Hooper Camera in Chatsworth; this fairly inexpensive piece of equipment improved my results substantially. I still use this lightbox, although I plan to move on as soon as I have the extra cash.
The macro setting on a point & shoot camera isn’t really meant for heavy duty use, and it crapped out on me about a year after the purchase date. At that point I felt ready to upgrade my setup, and the boss, Big A, agreed to split the cost of a Canon Rebel t3i with me. For those who aren’t familiar, this Canon series is the perfect intro to DSLR. The capabilities are definitely not pro level, but I highly recommend this machine for amateurs looking to get their feet wet. It took a few weeks to get used to the system, and I didn’t dare touch Manual mode until I sat down with fashion photographer Tal Karasso who kindly showed me the ropes.Now I get good shots most every time, and I’ll show you how to take nug shots like a pro.
Cannabis Photography Tips
- Promaster tabletop studio
- tabletop tripod
- Canon Rebel t3i w/ 18-55mm lens
- 2 perimeter lights w/ 150 watt daylight bulbs (lights are positioned facing the bud at a 45 degree angle.
- 1 ghetto desk lamp w/ 100 watt daylight bulb (positioned on the left hand side of the shooting tent, facing a white t-shirt that serves as a reflective surface)
- 1 glass curing jar w/ mirror on top
- Postproduction editing Photoshop CS5
The Secret to Shiny Nug Shots
A lot of people assume that there’s a trick to getting the trichomes to pop in a picture or that the shine comes from artificial touch ups. In fact I do very little editing after the fact. The bud looks beautiful because I’m lucky enough to be exposed to the finest quality bud in Los Angeles. Sure makes my job easy! But you won’t get the kind of image clarity I do without shooting in manual mode. I shot in Aperture priority for a long time, which gave the buds a soft, glowing appearance.This method works and it’s faster in the sense that you don’t need to make many adjustments between shots.That said, you need to manipulate the shutter speed to get that sparkle. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a nice photography cheat sheet for ya:
I’ve heard about plenty of other weed porn shooting methods ranging from microscopes to scanners, but this is how I handle the HR menu pictures. If you have any tips to share or questions about cannabis photography, by all means, leave a comment below! I’m especially interested in macro lens recommendations in the hopes that someday I’ll be able to afford real pro tools. Donations are welcome!