Pierre Shale Fossils

I have long been wanting to explore the area known as Bacculite Mesa near Pueblo, Colorado searching for various fossils in the Pierre Shale deposits.  This site is on private land but the land owner does allow clubs to visit on planned trips.  This year I was able to make the field trip with the Canyon City and Lake George clubs.  

The Western Interior Seaway had Colorado as the ocean floor around 70-80 million years ago.  This was before the mountains were formed and all over Colorado there are fossils contained in Pierre Shale deposits.  I have found pyrite and marcosite concretions in this general area coming out of the Pierre Shale.  This is a rare and premiere location for fossils from this era of our geologic history!

Spanish Peaks

Looking SW over Pueblo towards the Spanish Peaks from the Bacculite Mesa.

Dave and Pierre Shale formations

Thanks David for taking this picture of me and the Pierre Shale formations of Bacculite Mesa locality.

I carpooled with another fossil enthusiast David (thanks for the ride and company!) and we both had a great day and some amazing finds.  David suggested hitting the back side of the collecting area and we found some great fossils in that area; but limited bacculites which was mainly on a different face of the mesa.  

Collecting area we were in. Photo courtesy of David Gillard.

I found the bacculite fossils pretty much in every zone of these hills including on top, especially in the small ravines and in wash outs below the hills.  I dug in a couple of spots that had quite a few rocks and fossils in the area, but didn’t find anything in-situ.  

Bacculites

Various bacculites are common if you look through the alluvial slopes as they have weathered out of their host Pierre Shale and made their way down the hill.  These multicolored bacculites are 4-6 inches long.

Bacculite spine

This is a bacculite tail that can flex, it is interlocked like vertebrae.

Here is what bacculites looked like. Taken from http://www.bhigr.com/media/photos/rplca/bacculites_grand.jpg

I found a couple spots where there was calcite (?) crystals in the fossils, like you see in the clams from Florida or septarian nodules.  These were eroding out of harder rock and not the Pierre Shale, I’m assuming some kind of reef as the rock was full of imprints of fossil clams, shells and ammonites.

shell imprtint

Shell imprint in shale.

Nymphalucina occidentalis

Small clam Nymphalucina occidentalis

bacculite

Weathered bacculite with shale matrix attached.

Unknown concretion, love the red/yellow/orange staining and patterns!

Little conglomerate ball, about an inch.

I love this triangle shell in a partial cube!

Calcite cluster, about 3 inches.

Veins of calcite mineralization

bacculite head

I believe this is the head of a small bacculite–which you can see protruding from the left side.

 

More calcite (?) crystallization

 

Bacculite with some of the iridescent patterns

Fossil clam with calcite mineralization

crystals

Some of the larger calcite (or barite?) crystals. These were beautiful amber color and translucent and in some spots gemmy.  Up to an inch.

Prickly Pear Cactus were in bloom!

David found this bacculite head right away; preserved in matrix!

David’s ammonite fossil.

Cool color and design on this shale rock; about 4 inches.

Various clams and shells. Many have calcite cores.

Crystal photos

Been cleaning some crystals and since I was playing with my macro lens I decided to do some crystal photography, both to play with technique but also to see up close where the cleaning still needs to occur.

Most of these crystals need a lot further cleaning; with all the facets and how stained they were to begin with; this will be a long process to get all of the staining out of the cracks.  

Love the parallel secondary growth and all the facets.

Back side of the above crystal. Looks as if the original growth was a smoky, then two different growth periods.

Still has plenty more iron oxide staining to clean up, but love the colors on this fluorite chunk.

There is a lot pointing at you!

A pyrite double ball. Love the shapes and facets on these great crystals!

This is uncleaned, the pyrite was starting to tarnish when I extracted it; the colors are amazing!

This is a great healed crystal!

 

Macro Experiments

Was a beautiful Mother’s day, took a few minutes this afternoon to play with my prime macro lens to become more familiar with the depth of field options, bokah and focus.  

Wanted the whole flower in good focus. f/18, 1/100s, iso-3200, 90mm.

Wanted a shallower depth of field, with focus on the center of the flower. Turned out pretty cool! f2.8, 1/160sec, iso-100, 90mm.

Was interested in what the bokah would be like. f5.6, 1/100s, iso-320, 90mm.

Wanted to get good focus for the large depth of field. f22, 1/100s, iso-12800, 90mm.

Was trying to get the pedal in good focus, was curious about the fuzz. f5.6, 1/100s, iso-500, 90mm.

Was curious how the focus would blur with a small depth of field on the tip of the budding flower. f2.8, 1/100s, iso-320, 90mm.

Hoping for good focus throughout. f/8, 1/100s, iso-1250, 90mm.

Was focusing on the flowers with a shallow depth of field. f/2.8, 1/100s, iso-160, 90mm

Going for deep focus to contrast with the above photo. f/20, 1/100s, iso-10000, 90mm

Wanted to get the curve.  f/20, 1/100s, iso-8000, 90mm.

Was trying to get the stem as it was in the shade. Got some grass blades in the foreground blown out. f/14, 1/100s, iso-1000, 90mm.

This was a difficult shot because it was breezy. f/5.6, 1/100s, iso-320, 90mm.

Love the budding oaks! f/16, 1/100s, iso-1250, 90mm.

More oaks. f/16, 1/100s, iso-3200, 90mm.

Was standing taking a picture straight down. f/16, 1/100s, iso-2500, 90mm.

What a cool time of year! f/16, 1/100s, iso-4000, 90mm.

Was curious on how these lichen on the oaks would turn out. f/22, 1/100s, iso-6400, 90mm.

f/20, 1/100s, iso-10000, 90mm.

Decay, with a leaf gall wasp cocoon. f/8, 1/100s, iso-400, 90mm.

f/22, 1/100s, iso-12800, 90mm

May 8, 2017 West Denver Hailstorm

Denver and the entire Eastern part of the state was under the gun for potential severe weather on Monday afternoon; the first severe day of the year.  There was a tornado warned storm around Agate on the Palmer Divide and the radar definitely showed a couplet, but only sustained funnels were reported by chasers on the ground.  The main threat was hail; big hail and lots of hail, and straight line winds.

I went out east of Denver to start, took a conference call for work while I was watching the major hailstorm wreck havoc over Denver.  After my call, I headed east until I eventually punched through the line of cells and was able to see the storms on the east side.  Watched several cells get close and then headed home.  Although there was a lot of lightning, I was nearly to Kansas and will wait until another day to catch the nighttime action closer to home!

Denver hailstorm May 8, 2017

May 8th, 2017 Denver Hailstorm taken just east of DIA.

Sitting at DIA looking west was the damaging hailstorm, looking east was this smaller storm cell.

Denver hailstorm

Planes were landing, must have been an incredible view from the left window seats!

Scud cloud that looked suspicious.

Hailstorm

Love the colors at deep dusk. This is near Cope as the hail core of this storm was merely a cornfield away! Note the in-cloud lightning.

Great cloud structure and some in-cloud lightning

Love the rain and clouds!

Cloud to Ground lightning inside the rain, barely visible. The storm was looking pretty evil and I took off after this picture.

Crystal photography using a Macro lens

As I’m experimenting with my new Macro lens and crystal photography.  I am trying to figure out how to better shoot crystals using a macro lens, which I am really enjoying! 

I have been cleaning some crystals in an Iron Out bath recently and thought I’d take some progress shots.  These are crystals dug earlier this year and some last year.  Here are some of the experiments.

These two both came out of the same area of the little seam I was in. Both had interesting secondary growth patterns! f11,1/100, iso400, 90mm

This one had small crystals growing in the overgrowth gap. Interesting etching as well. Needing a good depth of field for these macro shots. Manual focus, f11, 1/100, iso1250, 90mm.

This crystal has some interesting faces in the overgrowth. Trying to capture the point and the faces in focus, so needing a deep depth of field. f11, 1/00, iso1000, 90mm.

Amazonite. f11, 1/100, iso125, 90mm

This crystal has some neat little gemmy sidecars. f11, 1/100, iso1250, 90mm.

I love this side shot showing the color zoning in the crystal. Love the sawtooths at the top left! f20, 1/100, is0640, 90mm.

Side view of 1/2 of this crystal.

Was going for a shallow depth of field for this end crystal which shows the iron staining and multicolors this fluorite has to offer! f5.6, 1/100, iso100, 90mm

This is part of a much bigger fluorite crystal that disintegrated once I tried extracting it. But the apple green contrasting with violet is amazing! Background was the 12 inches of spring snow and the crystal was backlit by the morning sun. f3.2, 1/2000, iso100, -0.7 step, 90mm.

This is two of the three pieces I was able to salvage. They are still pretty stained with iron oxide, will continue giving a iron out bath. f9, 1/100, iso100, -.7step (oops), 90mm.

Macro Experiments

Been trying out the new Macro lens to see if I can get used to when to use which aperture setting.  Since it was a beautiful spring day, I walked around the yard with the lens experimenting on different subjects.  

Checking out Erin’s garden, which includes a bunch of crystals. f5, 1/320, ISO100, 90mm

Douglas County Petrified Wood, Colorado Smoky Amethyst Quartz, and a Douglas County Smoky Quartz Amazonite plate. Again in the garden. f11, 1/100, ISO100, 90mm.

Some convection on a storm a bit north of here, getting used to the fixed nature of this prime lens (this is my first foray into prime lenses). f11, 1/400, ISO100, 90mm.

Black and white convection shot, at the top of the stack. f11, 1/640, iso100, 90mm.

Manual focus on the seed in this dandelion shot. f11, 1/100, iso160, 90mm.

Was going for a shallow depth of field here with the foreground in tight focus. Manual focus, f2.8, 1/1250, iso100, 90mm.

This guy was cool, letting me get so close. Needed a deeper depth of field to get the entire grasshopper in focus, didn’t quite achieve that though got most of his head in good focus. f/6.3, 1/320, iso100, 90mm manual focus.

Working on really tight focus on all of the head. Didn’t get the antennae though. Manual focus, f6.3, iso100, 1/200, 90mm.

Got him itching, even bugs have allergies? This one was a bit tighter in focus, not because of the change in aperture, but rather the antennae are more in line with the body I think. Manual focus, f6.3, 1/200, iso100, 90mm.

Caught this hawk soaring! f14, 1/400, iso100, 90mm

The goal for this shot was to get the little anthers in focus while also have the rest of the flower which requires a deeper depth of field. Manual focus, f14, 1/100, iso1250, 90mm.

Here I was trying to get the further away anthers in sharp focus to highlight the curly anthers. Still trying to get it in mostly focus, but the foreground is a bit out of focus. Manual focus, f18, 1/100, iso2000, 90mm.

For this shot the goal was to get the flower and anthers in tight focus, didn’t know what kind of bokah to expect. Manual focus, f5, 1/100, iso250, 90mm.

Was trying to get the anthers in tight focus to highlight them with a really shallow depth of field to focus the eye on the anther and pollen. Manual focus, f2.8, 1/500, iso100, 90mm.

There was a tiny little ant crawling around the flower, wanted to try and get him and the flower in focus. Manual focus, f13, 1/00, iso400, 90mm.

I saw the ant walk into this hole in the tree, so I did a tight focus on that hole and waited for him to peek his head out. Manual focus, f13, 1/100, iso250, 90mm.

This dead flower stalk had good depth between the flowers, so I wanted to see what the extreme shallow depth of field would look like on this lens. I find it amazing the few inches blurs that quickly! Manual focus, f2.8, 1/640, iso100, 90mm.

The goal here was to get good overall focus, with the seeds being primary focal point. I liked this because you can see all the way to the core of the dandelion flower and I wanted to try and highlight that. Manual focus, f22, 1/100, iso800, 90mm.

Had some Mt Antero beryl showing in the garden, so tried to get crisp focus on some of the Colorado blue. Manual focus, f18, 1/100, iso4000, 90mm.

This quartz crystal needs a cleaning someday. The goal was to get all the facets in focus, so a deep depth of field from the macro lens. Manual focus, f18, 1/100, iso1600, 90mm

Cinco de Mayo sunset and astro experiments

What a beautiful (probably smog enhanced) sunset at my friends house here in Larkspur.  Wasn’t focusing too much on photos (more on just chilling after a tough couple of weeks) but was able to capture several with a 55mm prime f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens.  

Going for the shallow depth of field to blur the background. f1.8, 1/6400, iso100, 55mm.

Rampart Range, Perry Park and Devils Head. f8, 1/160, iso100, 55mm

Devils Head and contrail. f8, 1/125, iso100, 55mm

Devils Head and “X” marks the spot! f8, 1/60, iso125, 55mm.

Love how the moon flares with this lens. 15sec, iso1600.

We were watching for the eta Aquariids shooting stars, and it was time to go home, so I made a fireball :). This is actually the moon. 15 sec, iso1600.

These are fairly noise due to the digital zoom with the 55mm lens. I’ll go back and shoot these with a telephoto sometime. This is the Front Range west of Denver. f8, 1/60, iso160, 55mm

Another perspective. Lookout Mountain in Golden is in the lower left. f8, 1/60, iso200, 55mm.