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Today Yesterday I had the kind of day that pretty much demands a blog post, if only for the purposes of propping up my indeed quite dodgy memory. There were thrills and spills, new toys, broken toys, technical trickery, rather too much time on the phone to all the wrong people, and something else that escapes me, but may yet return in the process of writing this post. In which case I'll probably come back and edit that last bit and you'll never know about the lapse.

Or not.

ETA: Now I remember. I discovered that one of the cats had vomited on one of my favourite books. A paperback.

And now it's the next day and I'm lost and rambling. This is a bit long.

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This evening I took delivery of a new microscope. A proper microscope. Coming soon a 10 MP camera, and depending on results this may be followed by some extra lighting and optics. But hang on, I hear you say, don't you already have a microscope and camera? What have you beeen using all this time to take pretty rock picktures? Witchcraft and old copies of Hansard?

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Today's pretty rock was brought in from the cold (well, the nice sunshine actually) where it normally resides as one of the outside rocks on the edifice formerly known as the barbeque.

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This slab of Orbicular Ocean Jasper from Madagascar is a lovely subtle rock, so it may take a bit of time to get my eye in to appreciate the subtle colours and patterns. A couple of shots struck me as instantly interesting so they went straight up to redbubble.

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Stringy Moss Agate from Lake Bonneville Idaho is odd-looking stuff. Definitely a candidate for weird microscopic life, or perhaps something you'd find around a geothermal vent deep in the ocean.

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Strictly speaking it's now after midnight so it's a whole new day to post about pretty rocks. This one is Pink/Lavender Dumortierite from Nevada.

Help me!

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Pretty rocks, can't stop at one. Introducing another fossil-turned-agate: Agatized Petrified Palm Wood (Nevada).

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I bring you Rainforest Jasper from Australia. Where in Australia? I hear you ask. It's a pretty big place. Well, I don't know officially, but I have a sneaking suspicion this comes from Queensland.

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You'd think with a name like Galaxy Porcelain Jasper (Nevada) this slice of rock would be a certainty for deep space images. The naked eye can see pale blobs on a darker, slightly messy background, and to me it looks a bit like a monochromatic deep field Hubble image full of clusters of galaxies. But nothing is certain until the microscope is switched on, and I confess it took several views before I warmed to this one. I'd say part of the problem was that I've been working with such vivid colours these seemed a little flat. But I persevered until it began to give up its secrets, and I'm sure space fans will enjoy this set.

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Sometimes a rock makes me giggle. That first look with the microscope under bright lights can reveal incredible surprises, and this piece of Carrisite Jasper from Oregon did just that. Teehee. I bought it mainly for its potential for fire, but what I got was an entire rainbow and even more deep space. Enjoy.

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Seraphinite is beautiful stuff. It was discovered relatively recently so it's not all that common in shops, but it makes beautifully patterned polished stones for jewellry. The reason it's called Seraphinite is because the patterns resemble wings, in gloriously gleaming shades of green and silver. Yes, like recent features pietersite and chaoite it's another chatoyant rock, and a complete bitch. Satan was a fallen angel; I think this is his favourite stone.

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Charoite--like pietersite--is another lovely chatoyant rock that is sadly hydrophobic. I know, I say that all the time, but this time I really mean it. I already had a contact sheet of images I was quite happy with, but I couldn't resist having a bit of a play to see if I can get a bit more focus here and there out of my new glass slide covers.

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What rock do you pick when you can't decide on a colour? Rainbow petrified wood from Arizona, that's what. Photograph ALL the colours! This will need a spot of tinkering to bring out its best, but it's got great potential for animal prints, aurorae, and snow-clad forest. I love rocks. But you probably noticed that.

ETA +1 image

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This piece of Mariposite (otherwise known as Emerald Quartz) hails from California. Good for it.

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I sense a theme - it looks like you're only going to get pretty rock teasers in the form of unprocessed contact sheets for a while, but at least you can get an idea of what's coming up. This one is Yellowstone Ash Flow Jasper from Wyoming (USA), which was presumably formed by layers of volcanic ash. Apologies for lack of science content.

I have tinkered a little bit with one or two of these but most are raw off the microscope. Enjoy.

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As per yesterday just a quick contact sheet of happy snaps of this dreamily beautiful slab of Brekian Jasper from Brazil. Fabulous palette; can't wait to do it justice. Also enormous potential for finding shapes and scenes.

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Just another contact sheet of some happy snaps of a recent acquisition that looks to be very promising indeed.

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My slab of Charoite (also known as Charolite) is from Siberia, and I have a funny feeling it didn't come to me quite by entirely legal means. I bought it from a well-established dealer in the US, but I read somewhere that it wasn't permitted to export raw slabs from Siberia, only tumbled stones. I tell myself that I couldn't have read such a thing, so perhaps it's just that it's only quite tricky to get an export permit.

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I'm in the mood for a process post so I thought I'd string together a few related pictures showing how I go from a slice of rock to something I'm proud to claim is Art. We'll follow the journey of a piece of East Java plume agate.

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The problem with a large and fabulous piece of rock such as my East Java plume agate, is that you end up with an awful lot of shots straight out of the gate. Rather than wait until I've weeded and processed them all, I've made up a contact sheet to give you an idea of what's in the pipeline.

ED: Now with contact sheet of modded images to show what I do to them.

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