Being a professional wildlife photographer is exciting and rewarding work, but it did have its drawbacks, until I found the power of a vaporizer. The color photograph of a grizzly bear catching a salmon in midair as the fish struggles up a waterfall or a video of a fight between two bull elk might have taken days, weeks, or sometimes even months of stalking the animals to take the perfect photo. These assignments can be tiring, frustrating, and even depressing because of the rugged environment I work in and the isolation of working alone. I was lamenting these issues with a fellow photographer a couple of years ago, and he asked me if I’d ever used a herbal vaporizer to reduce my anxiety levels. I had not and I asked him to explain. He’d used herbal vaporizers for years, even before cannabis was legal in many states. But he also explained there were a numbers of other legal and safe herbs besides cannabis that produced the desired relaxing effects he was looking for.
I first thought he was talking about a water pipe. No, he explained, herbal vaporizers work by heating dried herbs at a cooler temperature than actual burning, around 390°F. At this lower temperature, the active ingredients in the herbs are converted into a gas or vapor that is smokeless and inhalable. The user enjoys the medicinal powers of the herb without inhaling the harmful chemicals found in the smoke.
I decided to give it a go. I had an assignment coming up to film mountain goats in Colorado, so I searched the internet for vaporizer reviews to choose the best vaporizer for me. I purchased a one based off it’s features because it had dual chambers, a long battery life, and it vaporized concentrated as well as herbs.
My selection of dried herbs included peppermint, cat nip, St. John’s Wart and because recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, a small supply of cannabis. It turned out to be a long and difficult photo shoot. I was skeptical at first about the benefits, if any, of inhaling the vaporized herbs. After a week, however, I was sold on the relaxing and calming feeling I experienced from inhaling the various vaporized herbs. In some cases, particularly cannabis, the vapor contained a higher concentration of the mood-settling ingredients than the smoke. In addition, the herb vapors were lighter and less detectable than smoke which was important when trying to photograph animals in the wild.