By writing this blog I get to meet interesting people from all walks of life who enjoy rockhounding and recently I bumped into Ron Gibbs. Ron runs a non-profit gem and mineral site called TheImage.com . I recommend that everyone should check out his site as it was one of the first on the net! Here is a little about him and his site…
I was chemist in my previous life (until I bought my first personal computer (an Apple II in 1979)). I went to graduate school in Chemistry at the University of Texas, but ended up with about as many class hours in geology as I did in chemistry. Geology majors got jobs in oil and water related fields, and I had no interest there (mineralogy was my interest).
After graduation I took a job with a major chemical company and worked as a chemist for about 10 years. (polymer research) Slowly I moved into computer related work (for a little over 15 more years) and eventually managed a networking, support and developed scientific image capture and enhancement technology. During that time I was introduced to the WEB and Mosaic a few years before it went public. We had a contract with one of the national super computer centers and I had communications responsibility for our cross country communications. Two of us brought the WEB technology back to the research department in about 1991. I bought a very early digital camera in 1989 (only $3000 – company paid for it) and was an early tester of a product called PhotoMat (later it became Photoshop).
I became interested in the fledgling public WEB in 1994 and decided to create my own WEB pages. I looked for something that would combine my interests, photography, minerals/gems, and computers. Thus in late 1994 or early 1995 theimage.com was born. All of the early photos were taken with a real-time video camera (512×480 resolution) adapted to a microscope. They are still on the site and most of the images that are 320×240 were taken with the original camera and captured in real time with the computer.
Throughout most of the 1990′s through about 2003, I gave presentations at Macworld Expos, Mactivity, and Comdex on networking, communications, WEB graphics, digital photography, photoshop, and finally Introductions to 3d animation. I retired early and taught geology for one year at a small University in Michigan. Hence the section on my WEB site about geology. I used WEB technology to teach and lecture and did about 60 simple animations to illustrate. The notes on the site show may stills from the short animations.
The site is updated only in spurts, typically I add about 100 new pages at a time, and rarely add just one or two. The last section I added all at once was the geology tutorial (about 100 pages).
The oldest (non-updated area) of my site is the gemstone area. To that end I have photographed and classified about 30 types of jaspers, about 30 types of agate, and have added hundreds of new photos of faceted stones and cabochons. The photography is complete and I am writing all of the page content now. I have completed well over 300 new pages. When complete I will post them to the site. I tend not to add little bits as I go along, I add entire new areas all at once as they are completed. There will be 3 or 4 animations in this section showing how synthetic stones are manufactured. (Two corundum processes, one for cz and one sowing quartz growth. The animations are also complete.) There will be a section on cabochon cutting too.
My next future project will likely be based once again on the digital photography area. I have been lecturing at local Rock and Gem clubs, computer clubs, and photo clubs on using digital photography to do closeup work, macro and micro. I have also reacquired the bug recently for cutting cabochons and have developed my own style of “composite cabs” (kind of intarsia-istic). I have made about 400 slab and rough purchases on e-bay in the last year and have finished about 350+ cabs. I will be traveling to Arizona/California in January to the Quartzite show. I will spend a couple of weeks there looking for new materials. I will be driving from my current home in North Carolina back to my birth state, California as part of the trip.
I believe my site is about the 3rd or 4th site ever created on the WEB concerning gems and minerals. I know rockhounds.com and the mineral.galleries.com/ were also there about the time I was. Since my name was not related (named related) to gems and minerals directly my site has not been associated with the hobby as much. The site is totally noncommercial and I allow any free educational use of my images including use on other WEB pages. I receive about 15,000+ page request per day (but many are from search engines) and I no longer keep tabs of who my viewer base is. The raw report files are too large to play with. I know historically a good deal of my viewers are K-12 grade kids/educatiors and many colleges. I often get spikes when school starts. My images have been used in educational sites, rock hounding sites, dissertations, thesis, educational CD’s, etc. I typically don’t trade links with people (especially commercial sites) as I am not a link site, and don’t want to keep a link list up and functional. I will add a newer link section next year but again not a large one, sites like rockhounds.com have far more complete and organized lists.
I am now retired and do pretty much whatever I want. I cut stones (cab and facet), make silver jewelry, indulge in many aspects of photography (and video -editing, DVD creation etc.), and dabble in animation. I play competitive table tennis 2 or 3 times a week, and am a member of several Rock & gem, Photo, and computer clubs. When I was in my early teens I used to hunt in the Mojave desert with my uncle for rocks/agates, and did a bit of mine dump prospecting on copper mines around death valley. I have collected a couple of times in the upper peninsula of Michigan (when I live in the state), and have collected in Texas when attending graduate school. My favorite finds were 5 river rounded honey topaz crystals from the west Texas area collected over 4 years of looking. I have faceted two thus far into nice gems.
I have enclosed a photo of some of my current cab work. I was WEB master for the Midwest Fedration of Rock and Mineral Clubs for a couple of years but gave that up when I moved to NC. I do my own site, and the local R&G club site (charlottegem.com) at this time. That about covers it, if you have more questions let me know.
Thanks for the interest …