Erik Christiansen photographs 170 strains of marijuana in his book, Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana, with Dan Michaels.

You Don’t Have to Be High to Think These Photos of Marijuana Buds Are Far Out

You Don’t Have to Be High to Think These Photos of Marijuana Buds Are Far Out

Behold
The Photo Blog
April 20 2015 11:17 AM

You Don’t Have to Be High to Think These Photos of Marijuana Buds Are Far Out

blueberryafgoonycdiesel
Left: Blueberry Afgoo. This interesting hybrid instantly draws you in with its perfect mix of orange, green, purple, and blue color. Right: NYC Diesel. With its roots based in the city that never sleeps, this sativa-dominant hybrid will awake your mind with a euphoric and energized high.

Erik Christiansen

Like any plant, cannabis comes in many varieties—and, in addition to having distinct effects on the body when smoked, different strains have different appearances. Leaves range from bright to dark green, hairs can be purple or orange or red, and the concentration of crystals covering the buds can vary. And with names like Kryptonite, Dirty Hairy, and Chocolate Thunder, strains can even seem to have individual personalities.

Since he began photographing marijuana in 2009, Erik Christiansen has come to appreciate the subtle differences among the hundreds of strains of marijuana he’s featured on his website, Nugshots.com. For the book, Green: A Field Guide to Marijuana, which will be published by Chronicle on May 19, Christiansen teamed up with cannabis researcher Dan Michaels to create a resource for cannabis growers and smokers exploring the wide world of weed.

dirtyhairysourgrape
Left: Sour Grape. Its flavorful smoke is expansive and thick, hitting hard and fast. Right: Dirty Hairy. This messy-looking flower has a crisp and clean grapefruit flavor with a musky and earthy finish that’s a delight to smoke.

Erik Christiansen

greencracklaconfidential
Left: Green Crack. It has a pleasant, sweet citrus flavor and an even more pleasant cheerful high. Right: LA Confidential. It’s easy to grow, looks amazing, has a classic old-school flavor, and affects your body with a deep relaxation.

Erik Christiansen

When Christiansen started smoking cannabis, he was frustrated to find that most of the photos online were the grainy, inconsistent cellphone images of amateurs. “The photos out at the time didn’t really depict what I thought was the true essence of the bud,” he said.

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Since then, he’s developed a standardized process of lighting and coloring his studio photographs of buds, which imbues them with all the beauty of fine art botanical portraits as well the attention to detail of scientific records. To create an image that’s entirely in focus, he takes between 25 and 40 macro shots of each bud at different focal points, and then stacks them on top of one another on his computer. He also removes all colorcasts to create a uniform, objective view that can help users compare products.

holygrailkryptonite
Left: Holy Grail. This top-rated Kush strain is considered by many to be one of the best hybrids ever cultivated. Right: Kryptonite. It will hit you faster than a speeding bullet with a body buzz more powerful than a locomotive.

Erik Christiansen

juicyfruitkosherkush
Left: Juicy Fruit. The bud’s full spectrum of green to lavender colors radiate from the thick trichome crystals that cover its plump structure. Right: Kosher Kush. Originally called Jew’s Gold or JG for short, this OG Kush hybrid is famous for its unbelievable THC and CBD levels.

Erik Christiansen

To track down specific strains, Christiansen visited hundreds of dispensaries in San Diego, Los Angeles, Northern California, and Canada. He also went to trade shows and competitions, including the Emerald Cup, where he got to take home a judge’s pack, which included 50 strains up for consideration. They strove to include popular strains like Blue Dream as well as unique ones like 5Gs × OGSD—a one-of-a-kind strain that Christiansen found at the Emerald Cup. Some were simply chosen for their good looks.

“It was kind of like a treasure hunt, doing hours of research, looking through hundreds of dispensaries to find a different strain. I’d meet people in the cannabis industry at trade shows, meet certain prolific growers that had a strain I was looking for, and I’d get that strain directly from them,” Christiansen said.

For the book, Christiansen also sampled all featured 170 strains, and took notes for the book on the smells, tastes, and physical effects he experienced. “It’s a really cool job.”

mikephelpschocolatethunder
Left: Chocolate Thunder. By combining two chocolaty parents, Chocolate Thunder produces a rich, creamy, and unrivaled chocolate-flavored smoke. Right: Michael Phelps. This incredibly dense and chunky flower wins the gold medal in appearance with its old-school Kush bud structure that swims in gooey crystals.

Erik Christiansen

purpleogblackberrykush
Left: Blackberry Kush. The brawny buds emit a complex mix of deep fuel and mixed berry aromas and flavors that tingle the nose and please the taste buds. Right: Purple OG. The aromas bring out a nose-tingling grape fuel that tastes exactly as it smells.

Erik Christiansen

Jordan G. Teicher is the associate editor of Slates Behold blog. Follow him on Twitter.