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Amir C. Akhavan August 21, 2015 11:20PM
When a mineral photo is uploaded, the user is asked to provide information about the specimen, like the minerals that are seen on the photo or the dimension of the specimen or the field of view.
There's a text field on the upload form to enter additional information that could be of interest.
The essential things that should be written here are mentioned on the photo upload form:

Quick List - Click on mineral names to select for this photograph
Mineral not on this list? To ensure approval you MUST include information about how specimen was identified.


For mineral photographs, please make sure you enter the following in the box below:

1. If more than one mineral species is listed, please make it clear to the viewer which is which.
2. If rare species are shown, please explain how they were identified.
3. If it is not your photograph, please confirm you have permission to post this image.

Feel free to add other comments here about the photograph, such as specimen owner, photographic equipment used, crystallographic information, etc.

In the Mindat Manual
we are a bit more verbose about what we expect to see in a description:


The description should include at least information on the size of the specimens, the minerals, and ideally the method of identification:

1. A scale of the photograph has to be entered in a special form on the photo upload page (preferably in metric units, mm or cm). You can use the width of the photograph (ie. horizontal field of view is 5mm; or horizontal fov 5mm) or largest crystal is 3.0cm high. You are welcome to add that information to the descriptive text, too. Objects that are presented as a scale on the photo with the specimens are acceptable as long as they are not too obtrusive. Coins are probably not a good size guide since most people would probably not know what is the size of a particular coin.

2. Explain what is seen. Do not presuppose that visitors are familiar with the minerals on the photo. If there are a number of minerals on the photograph, you need to describe which crystal is which mineral (e.g. "green crystals of mineral X on white crusts of mineral Y"). You should also include other information such as habit or pseudomorphism if these are applicable.

3. We appreciate information on how the minerals were identified ("visually", "dealer label", "museum label", "analysed with method X by person Y at University Z", etc.). Photos of species that are difficult to identify, rare or unusual may be rejected without this information.

So there are cases in which information about the method of identification must be included in the text.
This does not necessarily mean "analysis". Many minerals can be identified with good confidence by their physical properties (crystal shape, hardness, streak, luster, etc.).

Information on the method of identification is especially important for rare minerals. Often there are only very few photographs in the database, and most people are not familiar with newly approved species. Other minerals are easily confused or are members of solid-solution series that can only be distinguished by adequate methods.
But even for the more common minerals it is interesting to know if and how a mineral was identified, of if the ID was copied from the dealer label (there's nothing wrong with that).

It takes some time to take a good mineral photo.
Please take a minute to enter some information that will make your photo even more valuable.

Even if it is obvious what is on the photo, like a rock crystal, it makes sense to add some minimal text like "Rock crystal" to the caption.
Occasionally - luckily it's very rare - something goes wrong in the database and then a wrong photo gets assigned to the metadata (locality, size, etc.).
The description will help that these glitches do not go unnoticed.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2016 04:19PM by Amir C. Akhavan.
Martin Rich August 23, 2015 04:28AM
In my experience dealer labels should used only in emergency (in the case of rare species) as reference, because the majority of the dealers have not more mineralogical knowledge as experienced collectors. If the dealer has noted that (rare) species was identified by different analysis methodes (xrd, eds, ...) so it's ok and for newbies or collectors they are not familiar with some species it's also ok.


"Komme gleich" ("I'll be right there") - Godot
Dale Foster August 25, 2015 06:42AM
I would have to say my biggest issue with descriptions accompanying mineral photographs is the number of times I open the box for the description and find a shedload of technical data about how it was photographed and next to bugger all about the mineral and its matrix, associated minerals or anything else about it.

Without putting too fine a point - this is supposed to be a mineral database not a bloody technical photography site.
Don Saathoff August 25, 2015 04:10PM
I have to agree wholeheartedly with Dale on this point. There is a forum for photography where members can brag about their photo equipment and how they use it!

Don S.
Chester S. Lemanski, Jr. August 25, 2015 05:40PM
The technical data regarding the photography itself are very welcomed; however, many photo contributors do not provide adequate mineralogical/occurrence data. The technical data should follow the mineralogical data. Many photos clearly show more than 1 species but only have the primary species listed. If the photo is of secondary Cu minerals, there may be only nuances of difference in color - which is the primary mineral?? Dealer labels, especially for rare/obscure species, are only reliable if they come from a dealer who specializes in systematic species sales and has a superior reputation. Any others are of somewhat lesser reliability, but may very well be spot on with the identification. The dealer's source for the material also plays into this sliding scale of reliability. Of course, many dealers will understandably not want to disclose their sources of material in all cases. The best dealers will offer a "no questions asked" return policy if the material turns out to be something else. Virtually all professional dealers have a desire to sell properly identified specimens to build and maintain their reputation and customer base. Mindat has many fine dealers who advertise and support this project.
Ed Clopton August 25, 2015 09:12PM
We don't want to discourage photographers from sharing technical details that may be of interest or of use to others in honing their own photographic skills, but it should not come at the expense of mineralogical content. Please take a moment to tell us what we are seeing and indicate why it is worth the effort for you to upload and for us to read. (And if it can't pass that test, well, . . .)

Dale's closing line put it very well. Mindat is about photography in service of mineralogy, not vice versa.
Jay I. G. Roland August 26, 2015 02:10PM
Though I thoroughly agree with Dale's sentiments I do feel that for those who wish to improve their photographic efforts, some details of equipment/method used could prove to be useful.

My personal gripe regarding many mineral photographs is they read almost like an advertisement to sell the piece. Giving precise measurements and declaring 'no damage at all'. I was of the impression that private ads were not allowed on the site but it appears that some get away with this. Perhaps they are the bigger donors to the site and therefore are allowed certain latitude in this? Also the dealer's photographs invariably head the lists when one looks into a given mineral, again, this makes me wonder how biased the order of listings is.

Just my h'penny worth.



...take up thy stethoscope and walk...
Rob Woodside August 26, 2015 02:40PM
Jay, Dealers have kindly supplied probably a few 100K photos from their sales lists and auctions. Your observation is quite right. Since commercial pieces are usually better than what one can find, these photos rise to the top. Many dealers have given us carte blanche to edit the captions rather than bother them with the usual "complaint" process, unless there is a severe problem which they should know about. Some managers have toned down some captions, but that is very time consuming. If you would like to propose better captions, I'll copy and paste them in.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2015 02:42PM by Rob Woodside.
Chester S. Lemanski, Jr. August 26, 2015 02:48PM

These are good points! Please keep in mind that Mindat is an all volunteer project. There are dealers who advertise on Mindat and are generous enough to share their photos with us. This is almost always after the specimen has sold! These dealers expend resources (time) to load these photos. Taking even more time to redact some of the descriptive data such as "no damage at all" is asking much of them since some of these dealers upload large quantities of photos, already tasking valuable time from their businesses. This speaks well for their business and the quality of their specimens and bodes very well for Mindat. There are limits and there are discussions between Mindat management and dealers regarding just how far they can go. Anything with blatant advertising is strictly prohibited! Since such a great percentage of the photos are from dealers (many high-end dealers), it is only natural that many of their fine photos will wind up on top on species pages, etc. Management selects the head photos in many cases and none of us favors any dealer - we favor Mindat and its best interests. Besides, choosing photos from one dealer over another simply to benefit that dealer would be unfair and lacking objectivity - Mindat has to come first! We thank our contributing dealers for their generosity.

Chet Lemanski
David Von Bargen August 26, 2015 02:50PM
Dealers have an incentive to take good photos of specimens and describe them in detail. The descriptions of other peoples photos often are rather short.

The order photos are displayed are ranked on managers votes as best, other mindat users votes as best, and finally (which is most photos) are ordered by how often they have been viewed.
Dale Foster August 26, 2015 03:04PM
Jay I. G. Roland Wrote:
Though I thoroughly agree with Dale's sentiments I do feel that for those who wish to improve their photographic efforts, some details of equipment/method used could prove to be useful.

I am not saying it doesn't have a place, but it should not be in preference to giving detail about the mineral specimen. The camera gear in this instance is only a means to an end.
Jay I. G. Roland August 27, 2015 10:50AM
Dale, I for one have taken onboard what you say and shall endeavour to add such info in the future along with minor equipment details.

Chester, the reason that dealers are so willing to share their images is not one of generosity or altruism but by so doing they promote their wares and stay at the forefront of folk's minds as sources of rare or particularly nice specimens. The mineral collector who goes out in all weathers and scrabbles about on spoil heaps to realise that lucky find they have sought for months, comes home, cleans the piece and photographs it and uploads said photograph is the one who is being altruistic. He has nothing to gain whatsoever other than to show other potential collectors what may be found at any given location. That is what I would call being generous.

That all said, the photographs uploaded by dealers are very nice to look at for sure but I hardly think they are representative of what the average Joe is likely to happen upon in the field which is why I often skip the 'pretty' pictures and home in on the more down to earth images.



...take up thy stethoscope and walk...
Norman King September 07, 2015 12:07AM
We talk about having people say something about their photos. Are we going to do anything about this issue, or not?

The first photo posted for 7 September 2015 has no description (see below). It is a photo of a marvelous specimen of spessartine, but I don't know what it shows. I don't know why it looks this way. Perhaps the poster has not been following the discussion about proper descriptions for photos, or perhaps he does not know why it looks this way. If so, he might say that, and then perhaps we might all benefit from feedback.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/07/2015 02:39AM by Norman King.
Ralph Bottrill September 08, 2015 12:32PM
We certainly should ask for more info

Andreas Schmid September 10, 2015 06:46AM
hello to all
up to now i am not familiar with the rules here. my intention to show my photos was only to show nice (i hope for you too ) pics of good specimen. honestly speaking i thought the pics are selfexplaining together with the mineralname location and size. in future i will try to add some info.i wish you all the best and hope you enjoy mindat and my pics.
best regards
Larry Maltby September 10, 2015 11:02AM
Andreas, Thanks for the explanation that you have now added. I think that many of us were wondering about the appearance of the edges of the crystal faces. It seems from your explanation that they are not the result of a color change but rather the result of reflected light off of unique faces on the edges. I also enjoyed looking at the beautiful photos in your gallery. You are a master of the application of light to crystal faces. You must have spent a considerable amount of time positioning multiple lights to achieve this beautiful picture.

Norman King September 10, 2015 01:03PM

Your explanation is perfect! Now I know exactly what you have. And, your work has so much more personality now.

I have studied crystal forms as much as anyone in this group, and I was not sure what I was seeing. But I did presume that these are unusual faces that also differed from the others by just a few degrees, as your lighting. Perhaps there is even more to the story? For example, did you stitch together several shots with lighting varying by a few degrees for each shot? With those faces showing at just the right angle(s?), I would not expect to see them nearly all around the crystal with a single set of angles for lighting. But I am not saying that you need to go into that much detail in your explanation–what you have now is good. We all learn bit by bit, and this photo is the sort that might inspire questions and discussion by the group, as I indicated in my earlier post. We like that.

Thank you!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/2015 05:30PM by Norman King.
Andreas Schmid September 14, 2015 07:14PM
larry you are right. sometimes it takes a lot of time to make a good pic. in a few cases i need more than one day. thank you very much for your compliments. its good motivation to continue posting some of my pics.

Andreas Schmid September 14, 2015 07:18PM
norman thank you for your words. you had a good idea. i will try to make a serial of pics to show how that reflection appears and disappears depending on the angle. i will post it if i succeed.
Dale Foster February 16, 2017 10:05AM
Well, I see there is no real improvement in captioning.

Looking as of this morning, 55 new photos uploaded today and only about 20 of them have captioning that relays any information about what is visible in the view.

Most of the others have information about how the picture was taken or who the specimen was obtained from.

Quite frankly it is a bloody disgrace the objective on this database is the minerals not the photography.

This abysmal level of captioning does sod all to improve understanding of the minerals found at locations and the nature of the hosting rocks - which would actually have some benefit to collectors and researchers alike.
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