Thursday February 8th - The weather was partly cloudy today with a high of 83 degrees.
I had never attended the opening of this show before, and I thought I might be able to get some
rockhound crowd shots if I showed up a little before 10 am. As you can see, I wasn't
disappointed. I really don't care much for crowds, but I will say that if you have to be buried
in a crowd, you could do much worse than rockhounds. This was one of the best mannered, most
considerate and easy-going crowds I've ever been crushed in.
I guess the general idea here is to get out onto the show floor early to snap up the best bargains and the highest quality specimens. While I'm sure there's some validity to this strategy, it took me nearly an hour to get onto the main floor. What I care for even less than crowds is waiting in line... Even once onto main floor it is not uncommon to have to wait and negotiate your way through a crowd of rockhounds surrounding a popular display or dealer's booth.
The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Show at the Tucson Convention Center is also referred to by some as the Retail Show and/or the Main Event. Retail Show is somewhat of a misnomer, as there is also a wholesale area at this show which is open to dealers with the proper credentials. It also propagates the idea that you can only make purchases at the 20-something other shows if you're a dealer, which is hardly the case. (Although it is a fact that some of the other shows only welcome dealers and wholesale traffic.) However, Main Event is not an inappropriate description for the TGMS show in the Convention Center. In addition to all of the displays and commercial activity, there are many meetings and lectures which can be attended. Here's a list of this year's agenda:
The mineral photography seminar was the first of many presentations at the TGMS Show, and one that I just had to attend. It was well worth my time as I learned a considerable amount on the subject of specimen photography in just a few hours. It's hard to beat a lecture from the voice of experience.
The seminar was kicked off by FMS member Peter Modreski, (center) who discussed some of the problems and techniques involved in photographing fluorescent minerals. Then well known specimen photographer Jeff Scovil (right) spoke on a number of topics, most of them related to specimen and background lighting. You might be interested to know that Jeff's first fluorescent specimen photographic effort recently wound up on the cover of the Mineralogical Record. Luck? You might think so until you hear Jeff describe the process he used to do the shot. He used multiple exposures of shortwave, longwave, and "white" light with a large format view camera to get the effect he was after. Most of Jeff's professional techniques and tricks-of-the-trade are directly applicable or adaptable to hobbyist cameras, lash-ups and experimentation.
Thanks to Peter and Jeff, I've got many new ideas to play with when I get around to shooting some of my newly acquired specimens from the Show. And re-shooting some of my "old" stuff. Specimen photography is a fun way to get double-duty out of your collection.
There were many nice non-commercial displays of minerals to view at the Convention Center. The
center isle of this show's main floor contained case after case of interesting displays to
browse in addition to all the commercial offerings.
This fine stibnite was in one of them. It's from the Ichinokawa Mine, Iyo Province,
Island of Shikoku, Japan. It was large, and a very aesthetic stibnite by my tastes. A rock for
This display case featured a selection of primo Elmwood Mine calcite crystals with various associated minerals from Smith County, Tennessee. Among the specimens was calcite on dolostone, calcite on barite with fluorite, and calcite on sphalerite. The close-up is a calcite crystal on dolostone. It was a beauty. This was a popular display and I had to wait awhile to get some clear shots.
An excellent example of a niche collection was this case of Pennsylvania calcites which are from the Bryon Bookmyer collection. This display really brought home the diversity of forms and range of colors which the calcite collector can enjoy in the course of collecting this mineral. The close-up shows a stunning twin crystal from Thomasville in York County. There was often a crowd around this one too.
The Lortone booth showed off a wide selection of rockhounding and lapidary tools and equipment. Here you could examine rock hammers, saws, tumblers, blades, laps, sanders and lots of other products of interest to rockhounds. If you had a question or two, Lortone's president Doug Guthrie was on hand to give expert information and advice.
Tucson's own meteorite man, Robert Haag, had a heavily trafficked booth at the Convention
Center. Robert's collection is world famous and he is well known in meteorite circles, and to
the authorities of certain governments. He is a pretty colorful character who's meteorite
collecting activities have sometimes gotten him into hot water. I can recall several articles
that appeared in the local paper when he was detained and jailed during one of his expeditions.
Here a rockhound inspects and agonizes over a space rock he's considering acquiring for his own
If you were on a tight budget but still in the market for a space rock, Robert had a tray full
of little irons that wouldn't break your bank account. There's something that really bugs me
when I see meteorites cut up and fabricated into objects like spheres, guitar picks and Star
Trek pins. While he'll never sell me one, I'm sure he wouldn't be doing this if there wasn't
demand for them. To each their own. Actually, on second inspection, the Star Trek pins weren't
so bad... Beam Me Up, Scotty!
Pallasites are one type of meteoric material that need to be slabbed to be shown off to best
advantage. There is a very aesthetic contrast between the shiny nickel-iron matrix and the
olivine crystals dispersed through it. The olivine can be shown to excellent advantage by
backlighting a slab of this material. Here's a rather large and handsome slab from a meteorite
that was recovered in Argentina. Large pieces of this material are not for collectors on a
This impressive Mosasaur skeleton, an 85 million year old fossil of a sea going lizard,
was displayed in a Convention Center lobby by Detrich Fossils. This one was found in
Kansas. It had a very distinguishing, prominently developed tail.