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Leah H. Joseph
The statement “a picture is worth a thousand words” upholds a form of truth in the world of mineralogy. There are millions of pictures displaying minerals and rocks for the purpose of showing nature’s “natural” beauty. However, there are several other purposes for photographing minerals. Some use the images to illustrate the history of an area while others may use the photographs for the purpose of demonstrating the scientific understanding of minerals.
The Pieces of Earth’s History geological collection here at Ursinus holds over a thousand mineral and rock samples, showing various physical, optical, and chemical properties that form naturally. This summer, I worked to photograph all of the minerals donated by Dr. Porter (Ursinus ’35) in ways that are both aesthetically appealing and effective in communicating scientific information. The end goal of this work is to impart knowledge and awe about our natural world via the creation of an educational digital display for the Ursinus Digital Commons.
I pursued many avenues of investigation, testing different methodologies of photography to find solutions to any issues I had, such as the highly reflective properties of hand-cut gems. During this process, I also visited and viewed several collections at regional museums/displays, speaking with some of the most passionate curators who gave valuable advice and inspiration on both managing and photographing our collection. This project not only pushed me to find creative solutions but also encouraged me to further my outreach to professionals in the field to create an accessible platform for those who are just starting to enter the geological world.
Valerio, Juliana, "Mineralogy and the Methodology of Photography" (2023). Environmental Studies Summer Fellows. 16.
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