Antler Makes a Great Crystal Digging Tool

Some ruminating on antler used to dig in moist, hard packed clay or tough mud.

I get anxious every time I see someone digging up fine crystals with a screwdriver. Case in point is the terrific article in the current issue of Rock&Gem. (October, 2019) The article is titled “Unparalled Timberwolf Quartz” and it describes some fantastic quartz being dug up in Washington State with a screwdriver.

I saw the same thing happening at the Ocean View/ Pala Chief Mine Complex with people digging for tourmalines and other great gems.

To each his own but if you can possibly experiment with antler I think you will be tremendously happy. Good luck.


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Rock Related Places to Visit and Collect in The Southwest

This 1.4 meg .pdf contains descriptions and locations of rock shops, fee/digs, BLM and USFS district offices, museums, traditional collecting areas, and many more rock related places in the United Southwest.

Seventy pages from my book. Already in its second revision. Discard previous files and keep checking back for the current file.

Please distribute freely but make sure to send in corrections and additions. Thanks!





My Book Is Officially Dead (at least in hardcopy)

The local publisher who has been reviewing my book informed me this afternoon that his people are going to pass on the project. They don’t view it as being profitable. I was told early on that it would be an expensive title to produce, what with the number of photographs involved and all of the graphics that would need to be made. Fair enough.

I’ve set up an account at Patreon. On October 1st or soon before, I’ll start releasing some of my chapters there for free. The first file will be big, 16,000 words or so in .pdf on rock related places to visit or collect throughout the Southwest.  Rock shops, museums, USFS and BLM district offices, fee/dig reviews and on and on. All with GPS coordinates. I either visited these places in the last two years or they were recommended to me. I’ll have a pay side too, at Patreon, which can be explained later.

Thank you for your support, Thomas


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Prospecting Hints Using The

The is a great resource for checking out past and present mining activity on land throughout the West. Here I give a one take presentation on what I look for when I am looking for open ground.

Presenting video this way is experimental for me right now. Make sure to turn your screen to “Full Screen Mode.”

Click on the link or photo:


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Cheaper Microscope Photography?

The sand pictures below were taken with a small microscope that attaches to a computer with a USB cable. The cable provides light to the scope which is best  supplemented by conventional, additional lights.  This scope is currently selling for $119 at B&H Photo. 

I bought this scope while getting into mineral photography for my book. Unfortunately, its five megapixel resolution was not good enough to produce publishable images in hardcopy. That’s why I got my 65 pound, $1,200 (!) microscope with its 12 megapixel accessory camera. Printable images. Still, can this little scope work fo your needs? Say producing images for the web?

Differences in color between the shots are the result of different adjustments in Elements and the fact that I only had a yellow incandescent bulb to supplement the scope’s LED light. Never-the-less, you can judge if these kind of images would suit your purposes. A caution, you will always want a microscope that magnifies more.

This shot is as magnified as I can get it. The software keeps calling for “calibration” when wants to increase the magnification but there aren’t any menu choices for calibration.  I’m not sure if that is a problem with a Windows program ported over to the Mac but it may be. The free software is made for both Windows and Mac machines. Open the jpegs the scope makes in camera RAW.

And another picture. The big color and contrasts differences are from multiple adjustments in Photoshop, trying to get the image to reproduce what I saw in person.

Another shot.

I’ve taken this little scope on the road with me to view materials in my hotel room. Runs well off my laptop but it does make my Mac’s fans turn on in just a short time.

To compare these photos to ones taken with my big scope, go to my personal writing website:

Same sand, different scope.


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