Hey DGC! Your buddy Soup here, hoping to help you take some better pics! I am a medical cannabis patient and legal medical grower in California and this post features some pics of my veg room. Please excuse the unfinished walls and exposed wiring, my veg room is a work in progress. Also please note I am currently vegging several different strains in a small area and testing soil mixes with different strains so you may see some unhappy plants in the background. This room is far from optimized at the moment so don’t judge me too harshly or use what you see here as an example of good grow room setup. The main focus of this post is on how to take better pics, not on my crappy veg room, which I admit is looking pretty lousy at the moment. Thanks and I hope you guys find this helpful!
I love grow pictures!
I love looking at them and I love taking them! But taking pics that capture the magic of whats really happening with your plants or nugs can be a real challenge. Difficult lighting conditions and other problems often lead to disappointing pics that don’t really reflect the awesome plants and buds we’ve worked so hard on. HPS grow lights often lead to orange tinted pics with washed out colors and if you are growing with purple/pink LEDs you are going to have even more problems.
I hope to upgrade to some Spectrum Kings in the future, but I am currently using several lights from Platinum LED. Overall I am happy with the bud quality, but they are unpleasant to work under and the pink light makes taking pictures a real nightmare:
What a hot pink mess!
The good news is there is a fairly easy solution available on most cameras that can greatly improve picture quality under these difficult lighting conditions:
Custom White Balance!
By telling your camera to adjust itself to the current lighting, you can compensate for awkward lighting conditions created by LED or HPS grow lights. Almost all cameras have a setting you can change to adjust for sunlight or florescent or incandescent light sources. Most cameras also have an option for a custom white balance. Not all cameras have white balance settings but almost all of them do. Even most cheap or fairly basic cameras have this option or one like it.
Special note for Iphone Users: The default Apple camera app does NOT have a custom white balance setting but the camera itself is capable of doing this. In order to set a custom white balance on an Iphone you will have to use a different app that has a custom white balance setting. There are lots of free photography apps with this setting available in the app store. Hopefully Apple will eventually make this option available in the default camera app.
Changing the white balance allows you to aim your camera at a white surface under your difficult lighting conditions (like a blank piece of paper) and force your camera to register that color as the “new white” for your photos. This allows you to compensate for the funky pink light from your LEDs or the orange light from your HPS or any other difficult lighting you might find yourself in.
All you have to do is set a new custom white balance:
1.) Find the white balance settings on your camera
2.) Select Custom white balance.
3.) Place something white or grey like a blank piece of paper under the lighting you are trying to photograph under.
4.) Aim your camera at the white surface (try to fill the shot with all white) and hit the button on your camera to set the new white balance
Here you can see the white balance settings on my old, cheap digital camera. The circle with the two triangles under it on the bottom right corner of the screen is the Custom setting.
Here is the white balance settings on a nicer Canon G10. I selected custom white balance, aimed the camera at a white envelope on top of my plant canopy, and hit the disp. button to have the camera evaluate the new white balance.
Once you set the new white balance, you are ready to take pics. Note with pink LEDs the effect isn’t perfect. Usually leds have an array of diodes that are a variety of colors and the camera can’t always compensate perfectly for having lots of slightly different colored light sources in the same scene. As you can see, it is a huge improvement over the default settings:
Top pic with default settings, bottom with custom white balance. Plants look so much better! No more neon pink!
My clover living mulch is sprouting. Top pic with camera on regular auto settings and then again with custom white balance
Its important to note that this trick doesn’t just work with LEDs or with HPS. Getting the right white balance setting can make a big difference under any kind of lighting:
These shots of one of my nugs were taken under my halogen desk lamp. Top pic with default settings, bottom pic after I set the custom white balance. (Strain is The White, grown with organic soil under my Platinum LEDs)
This little trick can make a huge difference in the quality of your photos and hopefully will help you to take the awesome pics that your plants and buds deserve!
Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them, and if you would like to see more posts about photography tips in the future, let me know! I might have a few more tips and tricks I can share.
Also for more bud and plant pics, check me out on Instagram!
I am @SoupTheGardener. I just got started over there but I should be adding lots more in the future!
Thanks for reading and Happy Growing!
Great article Soup! Thank you for posting.
Nice work, great write up.
SOUP! Your the best. Thanks for the tips!
Solid advice for our community. Improved my photo game right away. A+ pics. Professional
Best article I’ve found thanks! Geez four other articles I found didn’t even mention the white paper, no wonder I couldn’t get it to work. Thanks!
So glad you ladies and gents of the DGC have found my article useful! Thanks for the kind words! I’m new to writing this kind of stuff but I love sharing what I have learned and I will have more content coming soon. Y’all are my crew!