Posted by: Alan Pitts | May 16, 2010

Extreme Close Up; Whoaaaaaaaaa !

Here are some great shots that I made using my new favorite photography method. Each of these macro-photos were captured with the 3-megapixel camera on my Blackberry Storm, enhanced through the 10x magnification power of my belmo triplet hand-lens. This is an idea I got from my structural geology professor Callan over at Mountain Beltway.  This is great fun and actually produces pictures that rival the quality of my digital camera (which isn’t really that nice of a camera). It also gives me one more good reason to carry around my hand-lens everywhere I go, aside from the normal reasons of looking for rocks to examine or bugs to burn insects to identify.

Here is a shot without the use of the hand lens:

This is a garnet which was given to me last fall while on a mineralogy field trip to (go figure) Mineral, Virginia.  We met some friendly folks who were panning for gold and other minerals in Contrary Creek. They were nice enough to tell us a bit about their equipment/methodology and relative success. It seemed like a pretty cool hobby and great way to spend a day outside near the creek, but I don’t think anyone was getting rich. However, they did mention that once somebody allegedly pulled a gold nugget the size of a golf ball… but who knows.  They were really nice people and gave each of us a nice little garnet as souvenir. This “hand sample” doesn’t look like much on this scale.  In fact, to the untrained eye there is maybe nothing at all interesting about the shape or color or anything; it just looks like a little rock (mineral).

Now magnified. Tada !

On this scale you can see the reddish-brown color and sharp rhombic dodecahedral shape, which is just a fancy way of saying a 12-sided object with rhombic faces. I’ve always thought it is incredible the way some minerals grow in such regular, crisp geometric shapes.  I will most likely revisit this garnet in a future post in order to further explore the shape, crystal class,  symmetry, chemistry and more.

Here is another rhombic dodecahedron to further the point, photo from

Here are some other pictures made using my hand lens .

Fingerprint and skin (top of my right foot).  I accidentally frightened myself the first time I did this.  I wasn’t sure if I needed to moisturize a little more often or if I was actually a reptile.

Here’s a shot of a yellow impatiens with out the enhancement of my hand lens.

And here is the same  flower, unwilling to wait for it’s close up.

And this last one is just for fun….enjoy



  1. I love the way your mind works! The Provolone cheese test is absolutely great. I just found Orthoclase/Quartz with Garnets in it, and you came up on Google. Keep up the good work and check out my website…Kathy

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