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Ice (Var Snow (Var blanket (Var self-rolling));)

Rockaway Township, Morris Co., New Jersey, USA

Modris Baum's Mindat Home Page

Registered member since 28th Apr 2008

Modris Baum has uploaded:
5849 Mineral Photos
16 Locality Photos
434 Other Photos
I happen to live in a part of NJ (the Highlands or Reading prong) that is laced with granite pegmatites. So I got hooked on collecting by finding some zircons literally in my own back yard. Subsequent exploration of the woods behind my house yielded nice fluorescent zircons as large as 3 cm as well as large (5+ cm) but very altered garnets. Building sites yielded large (10+ cm) blobs of allanite (XRD verified) and nicely fluorescent (and no doubt radon producing) uranium salts.

It was just a matter of time before I discovered nearby Franklin and Sterling Hill. But I never found anything very good in the dumps and only a few good spinels and some decent chondrodite/norbergite xls in the limestone quarries. Collecting via the "silver pick" proved to be beyond my means at the time so I soon lost interest. Yes I know that folks keep finding interesting stuff on the Buckwheat dump even now - thorutite, petedunnite etc. But not me!

That was in the mid 1970s.

I came back to collecting when Dick Hauck opened the Sterling Hill Mine Run dump (around 1992) where I found several good franklinite and willemite xls (up to 4-5 cm). But the easy pickings didn't last long.

So what to do? I tried Maine and had some luck finding a few nice apatites but the "yield" didn't seem worth the travel time and almost everything is closed to collectors anyway.

Then I chanced on some photos of Mont Saint-Hilaire specimens in one of the mineral encyclopedias. Bingo! I had found my true love.

While I still have some FSH stuff, I am now almost exclusively a collector of MSH and nearby Saint-Amable (aka STA or Varennes).

Some leftovers from an unfocused "whatever is pretty" collecting phase in the 1990s rattle around in a couple of boxes ...

I use the prehistoric Russian MBS-10 scope which is OK for viewing but which has really awful chromatic abberation (especially at high power). In addition I struggled for years with the "photo attachment from hell" that I got for the scope. Not only did the photo tube optics distort, they also added a horrible green-to-pink cast on all photos. Only some hand made filters and heavy use of Adobe Photoshop made my early photos tolerable.

I now shoot through the eye tube (using a Canon XTi) and use Helicon multi focus SW. The latter is a wonderful tool but the early versions tended to produce "ghosting" around edges. Recent versions are much better but still have artifacts. And I still have the chromatic abberation. Photoshop is the only way out and I rely heavily on it (along with a few other digital trickery tools).

I have thrown away my "fiber optic from hell" and gone back to the softer light of two desk lamps! In generall I think that works better.

In 2009 I had cataract surgery in both eyes - which revealed that I had been underexposing, oversaturating, oversharpening and "overblueing" my photos. I have been diligently trying to correct the worst of these but at first I think I had an overreaction and overexposed and undersaturated too much. So now I have to fix the fixes! Is it worth it? Well - it keeps me busy and it's an escape from reality.

Note 1: To protect their privacy, I tried to avoid using people's names in my photos. At this point however, many have said it's OK and I don't want to slight the rest so I have been updating most of my photos with source info.
There are several analysts (AMcD, RG, MB, PP in particular) who deserve my thanks. But I still don't want to spell out their names. People who need to know will know! Tony Steede, who has been extremely generous not only with MSH rarities but also with a lot of EDS work, has indicated that he doesn't care so I have mentioned his contribution here and there.

Note 2: If you have problems fusing my stereo shots, try standing back from the monitor. If that does not help, try downloading the images and using a smaller view (or just use the zoom control on your browser). If that still doesn't work, try cutting the photo into R and L halves. If you use a fast viewer to flip back and forth between the images the specimen will seem to rotate and thus provide somewhat of a 3D feel. You can also try to print the L and R images and use some sort of viewer (e.g. the type used for aerial topo maps). But these are not full resolution photos and may not print very well. (I haven't tried this last method.)

Some people find it easier to fuse "walleye" stereo. You can try this by opening two browser windows with the same image. Arrange the windows so that only the "right" images is visible on the left side of the screen and only the "left" image is visible on the right side of the screen. It may be easier to download the image first and then to bring it up in two instances of a viewer such as Irfanview. That will also let you easily reduce the size of the images which may help in fusing.

I don't have a calibrated set up for creating the stereo shots. Hence the stereo effect may be exaggerated in some cases. My view is that stereo is useful for de-cluttering the backround and clarifying crystal shapes. If my photos do that, I'm happy. Life is too short. Humans take note: "reality" cares not a whit about the spacing of homo sapien eyes!

Note 3: Most of the MSH rarity information in my captions is derived from the tables published by Horvath et al in the July/August 2000 issues of Lapis and Rivista. I don't want to sound like a broken record in the captions so this note serves as a general acknowledgment.


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