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Fossil Seed Ferns (Alethopteris Sp.) From St. Clair, Pa

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Fossil seed ferns (Alethopteris sp.). 300 m.y.o. St. Clair, PA. 185mm.

One of the coolest fossil hunting experiences I’ve had. The amount of detail preserved in these fossils is incredible—some appear as if the leaves had just fallen! Exploring this area was like being transported back in time. Looking at a fossil like the one pictured here, it is not difficult to imagine the ancient carboniferous swamp coming back to life.

For me, fossils are all about stress relief; a sobering—yet comforting—reminder of how briefly we are here, and where our priorities should lie. When I feel overwhelmed, it is relieving to recall how petty our day-to-day struggles are in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on.

In order to illustrate the detail of these ferns, I found it was critical to get the lighting right. I experimented with many different positions/intensities of flash in order to get the desired effect. If light is coming from directly above, it can easily "flatten" out the fine texture of the piece, and I discovered that angling the flashes to the sides of the piece worked much better.



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Wow. just wow. how well preserved is that!? That is soo cool! Good luck illustrating. Lucky it is so well preserved!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Zach.........Great photo of the Alethopteris,your lighting has made it stand out brilliantly.

My favourite era is the carboniferous but camera packed in last month so no pic posts from me till i get a new one :( .


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I agree with the others, this is a brilliant picture.

Wonderfully lit, and perfectly captured.

Thanks for posting it, Zach!


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Beautiful picture of a beautiful specimen (interesting composition).

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