I wish I could take pictures like you do Sub is a statement I see more than any other. I have no formal training and everything I have learned I taught myself. If I can you can! Since my very first opportunity to look through a macro lens I have been hooked. Cannabis is such an amazing subject and through a powerful macro lens it can take on an almost Alien appearance. While I would not begin to try and teach anyone about Photography technique ( I am still learning myself) I think I can offer some pointers to greatly improve the pictures most of you take of your favorite plants.
The basics people often forget are to use a well-lit white room, no incandescent lighting its produces yellow hues. No toilets, buckets, brooms moms or dog turds in the background take the time to clean up a bit or you might end up with a shop vacuum in a Cannabis magazine with your favorite plant.
The next thing is the one that is going to upset you hydro growers. You cannot take proper pictures under a HID light. While white balancing and editing with photo software can make a picture taken under HID better you will never achieve the results I do until you use a properly lit area to photograph in. Without spending a fortune on fancy lights and reflectors you can still take amazing shots with a very in expensive Light Tent.
I set mine up by using some white sheets and several CFL bulbs mounted in painters reflectors you can buy at any hardware store in the painting section.
Cut the sheets or cheap white fabric into 4 foot wide sections and select a bright corner of a room to hang 3 sections to form a box open on one end. Once the cloth is in place position your CFL lamps on the outside of the tent facing the cloth so that the light is deflected in an even pattern. I like to use a combination of natural sunlight type bulbs and bulbs that lean to the blue side of the spectrum. Try placing the bulbs in different locations to see what effect they lend. Experiment till you get the best even lighting but do not take this lightly if you do not have enough external lighting your pictures will not be as sharp as you would like.
Next on the list is a good back drop to contrast your subject. You dont have to spend a fortune here either cheap cloth is 1-3$ per yard and even fine crushed velvet is only 5-7$ per yard. Two square yards is plenty to shoot against and over the past few years we have collected some 2 dozen different ones to compliment either the color of the bud or the festive time of year like Christmas or the Skull cloth I use for Halloween shots. Invest in a few but make sure Black and Purple Velvet are among the ones you collect first. We hang the back drop and position the plant in front but at least 12-16 distance between back drop and subject. You want focus on Bud not backdrop.
Its finally time to talk about cameras! You might think you need some ultra expensive DSLR to get great close ups and it does help but my Cover shot of Sputnik on the cover of Big Book of Buds 3 was taken with a Nikon Coolpix Digicam. How was I able to achieve this with a simple point and shoot camera with a fixed lens? I used a Tripod! This is the one thing so many amateur photographers take for granted. When taking close up shots everything has to be perfectly still and even the steadiest of hands will waver as the shutter opens and closes. So what ever type of camera your using mount it on a tripod. When researching a point and shoot digital camera for use on close ups the only important factor is the minimum focal distance. This will be in the specifications of the camera. The Nikon Coolpix 5400 has the ability to focus as close as 1cm from the lens although 2cm is more common with most point and shoot cameras today.
If your camera wont get closer than that with a fixed lens your close ups wont be as sharp or as close as you want. The final aspect of close up photography I employ is a lens mount ring flash. This is critical to get really close and still have proper lighting on the subject. While I now shoot with a professional rig and a Sigma Ring flash when I started I simply built my own using this great online tutorial.
Without a lens mount lamp or flash your camera body or even the barrel of the lens itself may block the external light and cause shadows. Using a ring light is the easiest way to prevent this and also provide enough illumination to capture a close up shot in a crisp clean form. Led lights really make trichomes stand out and it’s pretty easy to fashion a home made light using a few of these inexpensive bulbs.
Once I learned a few things and I was able to sell a shot to Big Book 3, I decided to buy a SLR camera and a nice macro lens. I took it out of the box and my first 100 pictures were terrible. It is amazing how many settings a point and shoot camera figures out for you, automatically and when its left up to you some education is required. What I am saying is it is much easier to get good close ups with a point and shoot macro camera than it is with a SLR until you learn a few basic settings. As I said I wont try and teach photography but I wanted you to understand unless your willing to put in the time a Digital camera may be a better choice than a full blown SLR.
Photography is an amazing and addictive hobby and there is always a better lens to buy or a better tripod or something exotic like Macro Rails, but that doesnt mean it cost a lot to get started, I bought my first Nikon on Ebay for under 400$ with a Nikon SL-1 ring lamp included.
Several months later a photograph taken by me with that camera was featured on the Cover of Big Book 3. It went on to take many pictures for many magazines and books!
While I now shoot with a Nikon D-50, D-80, a Sigma 105 MM Macro Lens and a Sigma EF-140 Ring Flash it all started with that simple Digicam. Dare to dream and there are no limits to what you can achieve.