Have you ever tried to shoot photographs inside a grow room lit by high-pressure sodium bulbs?
Chances are those pictures turned out heavily tinged in yellow, making it difficult to tell the true coloring of the plants and almost impossible to accurately portray the health and quality of a crop. In the black market days of marijuana cultivation, growers commonly did not want to document their operation for fear of self-incrimination.
Now, with legal, licensed cannabis growers spread across Washington and Colorado, more and more people in the industry are looking for simple ways to document their process, both for their own records and to share with retailers, processors, consumers or other growers.
The key is a quality camera filter that can offset the yell0w-tinted HPS lights, such as one made by Method Seven.
The Method Seven filter shifts light from the red/yellow spectrum back toward “natural” light. The above example shows a pair of photos taken with Apple iPhones. The top left portion was taken without using the filter; the bottom left portion was shot by holding the filter in one hand and the iPhone in the other.
The same experiment was performed with similar results using a point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix S800C and with a Canon EOS Rebel T5i digital SLR.
In addition to its camera equipment, Method Seven also produces a line of glasses made specifically for people that spend a lot of time working in rooms with artificial lighting. The California-based company makes glasses for use under high-pressure sodium bulbs, metal halides and LEDs, as well as eyewear for outdoor grows.
Here are a few more basic tips for taking great indoor photos of your operation.
– Practice on tomato plants before you go into the grow room. It will sharpen your composition skills.
– Test out various f-stops on your camera until you find a depth of field you like. Some like a sharp focus on a single point, some want everything in the frame to be sharp.
– Hold still by using a quality tripod.
– Hold real still. Once you’ve got your exposure and focus dialed in, use the timer feature or a remote shutter that will allow you to take your hands off the camera.
– You get what you pay for when it comes to cameras. Smart phones these days can take great pictures, but they can’t match a digital SLR when it comes to customized settings.
– If your camera supports it, learn how to manually set the white balance. The light available inside a grow room seems like a trip to the sun – at first. A properly set white balance will make the exposure look better than the automatic setting. Also, try shooting in RAW mode and adjusting the white balance in post-production.
– Consider the position of the fans in the grow room. Park yourself between the fan and the plant when you take the exposure to block the wind. Fluttering leaves may not be the look you want.
– Be trigger happy. Remember, it’s digital, not film, so take lots of shots. Get a few “insurance” shots with everything set on automatic, then go crazy in manual mode. Experiment to find the right combination of aperture, shutter and ISO speeds for your grow room.