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:

https://thomasfarleyblog.com/2019/09/15/pfeiffer-beach-sand-monterey-county-california/

Same sand, different scope.


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Sandstone Collecting and A Gila Monster

Sandstone Stuff

I self-collected my first piece of sandstone yesterday in a desert wash near Las Vegas. It has two bullseyes which I think is extremely unusual. Most sandstone exhibits bedding or strata.

Here’s a single still picture below, then two videos. The rock is this picture is wet from my cleaning it; it looks better when dry.

My friend the geologist R.C. says. “The curved lines are liesegang banding, an iron oxide stain. It forms the picture rock like that sold in Kanab, just from a different rock formation.”

I have a piece of picture rock that has been heat treated to bring out the iron color. I bought that small slab two years ago. I show it in the second video.

Here’s a short vid with good color of my rock. I made it on the tailgate of my truck when I first found it.

This is a longer video with sound and indoor light. It’s a more informative video but the color of the rock is not so good. I am still learning about video.

 

Update: Just noticed that a piece of sandstone I bought at Vanderford’s Gold Strike in Goldfield, Nevada also exhibits orbs. Perhaps they are more common than I thought. Much to learn and notice. Let me know in the comments below if you have any bullseye sandstone.

 


 Rolph’s Luetcke’s sends some pictures of his sandstone collection and shares some of his recollections on same.

Hi Tom,

Cool piece you found. I have some from Nevada and got those in a neat way. One trip up to Oregon to collect Obsidian and Opal back in the 70’s. One motel had a bunch of the picture rock lying in the weeds by the side of its property. The gal who owned the place happened to come out when I was looking at the stones and I asked her about them and she said she was sorry about that mess and she had meant to get someone to clean it up. I smiled and said I would be glad to remove them for her. She was so very happy to get rid of that junk. To some it is junk, to me it was treasure and free for the picking. I still have some of the pieces lying out in the back yard. Made some cabachons out of the material too and it worked up fairly nicely as you can see.

 

The next is from Arizona and a fellow who used to run the Pima College mineral class used to stop by our store, that is another story, but they had gone collecting and got a bunch of this stuff and gave us a nice piece.

The next piece is a stone from the mountains just to our West. We used to have access to one canyon that is actually visible from our place but someone locked the gate now. I went up there often when we first started here to get flat rock for a big area I used the stones as “paving” stones. Many had these banded patterns and those were the favorites to pick up.

The last one is from Sedona, the sandstone there had wonderful banding and I have better ones too but this photo was fairly easy to find. The patterns in the sandstone were iron also.

 

The Gila Monster

Today I saw our area Gila Monster on my late afternoon dog walk. I went back to get my camera and got some nice photos. Thought you would enjoy seeing it, my favorite lizard. This one seems to show itself every 4 years. We first saw it in 2011 then again in 2015 and now this year. You are welcome to post those photos or for that matter, any we send you.

Have a great day.

Rolf

Rolf and his wife Mary run Sunshine Gallery and Gifts in St. David, Arizona. It is a destination rock and mineral shop.

Another angle

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Visual Rock ID Sessions at UNLV

This just in from the Geoscience Department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, located in downtown Las Vegas. Session is back in and rock ID for the public continues as it has for some years. This year they have changed their days and increased their hours. The Department’s notice below, my comments below that.

From The Department

From: Geoscience Department
Date: August 30, 2019 at 4:03:35 PM PDT
Cc: Maria Rojas
Subject: UNLV Visual Rock I.D. Sessions

Hello,

Here in the department, we hold visual Rock I.D. sessions on Monday 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Tuesday 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Thursday 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (does not include holidays) for the Fall 2019 semester. We will not be accepting any more walk ins after 4:45 pm.

Rock IDs are visual inspections only; we do not keep or buy any rocks/fossil and we do not give any monetary value.

In terms of making an appointment, you don’t have to make one, you can just come during the listed time and day.

Regarding the limit on amount of rocks brought it, we have a limit of 3.

For parking and directions please click on this link for more information. https://geoscience.unlv.edu/rock-identification-2/

To do Rock I.D., make sure you come to Lilly Fong Geoscience Building Room 104.
Questions or concerns feel free to contact us (702) 895-3262 ; geodept@unlv.edu


University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Department of Geoscience
4505 Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-4010
702-895-3262
https://geoscience.unlv.edu/

My Comments

I’ve been to several sessions and met good people. You will be lucky if you run into Drew Barkoff, he is a P.hD student and has been a friend of my book. I am always astounded at what he knows and I learn tremendously every time I talk with him. I also met Sara last year, a Masters student. Everybody is excellent.

Locality is extremely important in any ID, of course, so bring in as much information as you can. A geologic map or a small printout of same, no matter how simple, will help tremendously. You can find these at either MyLandMatters.org or especially at Macrostrat.org. I once brought in a rock from Plymouth, CA and did not and could not expect anyone there to know the geology of the area. Bring a map if possible. Oh, and a small flashlight since the conference room is dim. And a loupe. They have some simple things like streak plates.

Parking can be tough. Many meters accept quarters but in some lots you will get only 10 minutes to a quarter. On many of those meters they have a credit card system also in place. You call the number on the meter and voice prompts walk you through a ten minute process to register your credit card, take down your license plate, and so on. It is frustrating and lengthy to set up for the first time, considering you will be in full sun the entire duration. If you return at a later date your account will be all arranged and it will be just a matter of calling the number back.

There may be other options for parking listed at the link the Department mentioned above that I do not know about. Check them out. If you are a short distance from campus a Uber of Lyft may be a good idea.

If you have large or heavy rocks, bring a cart or hand truck. You will need it, the Geosciences Building can be a long walk from wherever you wind up parking. Everything is on the first floor and handicap accessible. There is an outstanding display of rocks and minerals on the first floor and I noticed that they must have replaced all the lighting this semester. Things look great. This collection is almost worth a visit it just by itself. All campus staff is friendly and people will happily point you out to the Geoscience Building. Take water and they have a nice water fountain bottle filler near the conference room.

Good luck to anyone going and understand that at times people may get hung up or delayed for a little while before meeting you. Such is life.

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Willemite and Calcite from The Scott Mine in Arizona

UV under shortwave. Some phosphorescence at the end. I fumble with the mid-wave switch a few times, adding color and excitement. At least you know what things look like here under MW.

The material looks better in person. Brighter. I’ll keep experimenting with a way to lighten things up..

These rocks were a gift from Cliff of the SNGMS after I had to bail out of the recent trip to Wickenburg, Arizona.

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Carnotite Musings — Experimental Video

I dislike the time and bother of video production but I am trying a one-take approach with my iPhone. If this works out I may put more videos up. This video on carnotite is unscripted and only meant to try out lights and sound.

I forgot to add is that the counter with a probe works well for detecting on the ground. You just dangle the probe above the ground by the cord as you walk. Maybe not the most elegant way to test alluvium but you can’t possibly test the ground while walking around with the other machine.

There may be a handheld geiger counter compatible with the Mac, able to download data to same. It’s Russian but only $249. I have ordered one and will post results:

Soeks Quantum Professional Geiger Counter / Radiation Detector
http://www.dosimeter4you.com/geiger-counter-radiation-detector-soeks-quantum-p-94.html

 
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Qualitative EDS analysis on The Mystery Slab

In General

In my book I discuss different kinds of tests. I won’t explain anything about testing here; this is simply a page for fluorescent mineral collectors and other mineral enthusiasts to drawn their own conclusions.

Kerry Day is well known on Mindat and has been performing qualitative testing for over twenty years. His website is http://kaygeedeeminerals.com/ and he is on Etsy.

He has tested materials for me before and I have bought some fine specimens from him. He is, as we Americans might say, a good egg.

Background

This is a slab of unknown origin bought for five dollars at a rock shop in Kanab, Utah. It is 2.5 in hardness and does not fizz under 10% HCI, although it does produce inactive bubbles. It is about five inches in length. It breaks apart easily and has no sandstone like texture, more resembling hardened clay than anything else. But obviously hard enough and structurally sound to be slabbed.

Visible light

Shortwave UV 18 watt Way too Cool Lamp

What The Following Numbers Refer To

#1 red mineral: The darkest material in visible light, with a faint reddish appearance. This material fluoresces red under SW UV.

#2 green mineral: The light green material in visible light. This material does not fluoresce.

#3 Grey: Colorless or mostly so material forming what I am presuming to be the matrix of the rock. Does not fluoresce.

Aug 22, 2019

Hello Thomas:

Here are your latest:

The following spectrum was created with a Cambridge S100 SEM, a XR-100-CR pin diode detector and DTSA software. X-ray counts are on the vertical axis and X-ray voltage is on the horizontal axis. For various reasons peak heights are not directly comparable.

The accelerating voltage was 25 KeV. This setting exaggerates the higher voltage peaks. Detector efficiency peaks at Ca, thus, all Ca peaks are greatly exaggerated. NA IS VERY POORLY DETECTED BY MY HARDWARE.

Some elements create more than one peak. All elements have been labeled.

My X-ray detector cannot detect Li, Be, B, C, O, N or F.

Uncoated specimens charge up under the beam and generate false peaks such as Al (1.49), Si (1.74), Cl (2.61) and Ni (7.47). These elements are coming from the inside of my SEM chamber. Surrounding minerals also
contribute. Any element I believe to be extraneous I did not label.

#1 red mineral = I suspect Smectite Group – Sauconite. There are localities in both Colorado and Arizona.

#2 green mineral = Malachite in Ca matrix.

#3 Grey = If it didn’t fizz I would guess Fluorite.

Comments by Drew Barkoff

And yes, you were right about the UV light on that slab sample, that looks wild! What is the context of this sample again? There is quite a lot going on but it looks like this was the product of low- to medium-temperature alteration of what was probably originally limestone or some carbonate-bearing rock.

Low-T fluids can contain lots of Cu and sometimes F depending on local geology, explaining the malachite and what is probably fluorite.

While I don’t know what is making it fluoresce, the clay mineral is one of many common clays that form from lower temperature alteration of things like feldspar, or more likely residual clay grains that were trapped in the protolith as Al is not very mobile at all, and therefore very unlikely to have been introduced by the fluids as Ca and Cu have been in this case.

 

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More From Rolf Luetcke in St. David, Arizona

Hi Tom,

I had said I would send a photo of one I was taking and a little story.

The Ludlockite is a piece I had only read about in a big “Worlds Best Minerals Book we have. It was a piece that a mineral dealer had seen on a porch of a guy in Namibia that sold specimens from the Tsumeb Mine, one of the most famous mines in the world.

The piece on the porch was being used to hold open the screen door. The dealer asked if it was for sale. The guy sold it to him and he sent it right off to his US business and it turned out to be a new mineral and that one chunk on the guy’s porch was all there was.

I had no idea when I saw one for sale for $10, the piece I took the photo of, that it had been discovered in the mine after that first piece was studied. They traced the associated minerals with it and found the place in the mine it had come from.

More was brought out but it was never very common. I got this one for so little and am very happy with it, as much for the story as the piece and as pretty as it is.

The other two I took photos of today too. The Ludjibaite is a rare species and I paid a bit more for the piece, $45 but it is very nice.

The last one of Ludlamite from Mexico we got many years ago and I paid only $10 for it as well and it is a well crystalized piece.

So, that is my recent material.

Now to post them on Mindat.org

Later,

Rolf (Sunshine Gallery and Gifts, St. David, Arizona — S of Tucson)

Ludjibaite with Pseudomalachite 4mm fov Shituro, Katanga Prov. D. R. Congo (Blue)

Ludlamite 7mm fov Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico (Green)

Ludlockite, Germanite, plus 5mm fov Tsumeb Mine, Namibia (Red)

More on the famous Tsumeb mine comes from this text at Mr. Kerry Day’s excellent website, he being the owner and proprietor of KAYGEEDEE MINERALS, a Canadian vendorship devoted to the mineral collecting hobby. He was an economic geologist/mineralogist/SEM-EDS operator for many years. “Selling off my vast collection of mineral specimens, gemstones and lapidary rough has become my retirement hobby.”

It’s a truly fascinating site that I recommend you visit immediately, for a sensational trip around the world while staying right at home. Thousands of great pictures.

http://kaygeedeeminerals.com/home_pagecanadian_minerals

“TSUMEB MINERALS – Last updated April 12, 2019

The Tsumcorp polymetallic ore deposit was a near vertical ore pipe located near the town of Tsumeb, Namibia. A unique feature was three oxidation zones at various depths – the result of groundwater flow. The combination of oxidation(s) and unique chemistry created a vast suite of well crystallized minerals that are treasured by collectors worldwide. Unfortunately, mining ceased in the 1990s but neighboring ore pipes are now being explored/mined.”

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Bryan Smalley and Hidden Treasure Trading Company in Goldfield, Nevada

I visited Goldfield, Nevada twice this past week, stopping in each time to check on Bryan Smalley’s Hidden Treasure Trading Company. Byran continues to do fine things in Goldfield.

Bryan runs one of the Southwest’s most interesting rock and gift shops. His rock shop complex encompasses three buildings; don’t leave until you look into all three. Bryan carries jewelry, much of it local, much made by himself, maps, books, cabs and slabs, and some rough.

Check out this wonderful jasper he is now cutting. He has hundreds of pounds more.

Hidden Treasures Trading Company
489 Bellevue Avenue
P.O. Box 512
Goldfield, NV 89013
775-485-3761
775-485-3485

Bryan is expert on local rockhounding and accomplished at lapidary. He does knapping and can talk authoritatively on making flintlock strikers from locally collected chalcedony. Need advice on polishing? He has it.

Ask locals where Bryan is if you can’t find him. Try the Dinky Diner. Goldfield citizens won’t mind you asking, in fact, they are very friendly. You should give a wave to people as you drive by. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find his shops at first. Drive around. You’ll enjoy your time.

Bryan has a minimal web presence but he is busy with real life, finding rocks, cutting rocks, and making jewelry. When investigating the nearby Gemfield Gem claims, make plans to see him. Well worth the effort.

bsmalleyhiddentreasure@gmail.com

Yes, he made that door himself. And the shop.

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Mineral Mystery Musings by Rolf Luetcke

Hi Tom,

There are things out there that certainly are mysteries. I have quite a few in my past that were interesting.

One was a fellow on Mindat.org who found me by way of that site. He was from Tucson and messaged me about something he found deep in the mountains of SE Arizona. He was not a mineral guy but found a vein of quartz that had a silver material all over it and he was convinced it was a new metallic deposit he had discovered while bird watching. He sent me a piece and as soon as I saw it I knew it was not a natural material. I emailed him back and said I thought it was something man made. He just couldn’t believe it since it was “in the middle of nowhere” as he said. I told him to take it to the University of Arizona Mineral Museum. I told him I thought it was some kind of stuff painted on the rocks since it was only on the outside and didn’t go into the quartz where he broke it.

He took it to the University and they were also intrigued and said they would test it. He wrote me back a week later and said he got the results and it was aluminum paint. He was certain he had found a new mineral deposit but someone had actually painted some rocks in the middle of nowhere.

Another one was a fellow we met at the shop had been in the same area of old mines and he was a mineral collector, although not a very knowledgeable one. He posted on Mindat that he thought he found Millerite in the Patagonia area. He had not contacted me until after he had posted the material. I told him that was not possible because there was no chemistry in S Arizona to support that. Another friend had been with him and he gave me a piece of the same ore and as soon as I looked under the microscope I saw it was Stibnite, a mineral that was supported by the chemistry. They did find that Stibnite in an area Mindat did not list for that mineral’s locality, so that information has been added to Mindat. It was not the Millerite he hoped it was.

Dreams die hard. Mary told me many years ago when I found a new thing at a local mine and thought it might be some rare species, she said it is probably a much more common species but in a form I had not seen. She is usually right in pretty much all these cases and I learned a valuable lesson. I passed that onto the friend who gave me the Stibnite and he now thinks that his material was probably a more common mineral.

Got a bunch of those stories over nearly 48 years of mineral collecting.  Having worked with minerals now for so long I have gotten pretty good at identification but I do need to use a microscope to be sure.

Will be interesting to figure out what that “weird stuff” turns out to be you found in that field. Seems rock related and not necessarily mineral related and that is often harder to get figured out than a mineral.

Have a great day.

Rolf

NB: Rolf is a longtime mineral collector and rock shop owner in Southern Nevada. Read about his must stop shop here.

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