Richard has estimated that he has spent over 4,000 hours creating his collection - it is not an easy, quick or predictable process, and there are few short cuts - unfortunately!
What's more, he has spent over £50,000 building this collection!
Many minerals Richard uses are either found as the by-product of mining or other operations, such as road construction, or are extracted for collectors, or for making jewellery.
They vary hugely in price according to quality, rarity and size, and, like all collecting, can become addictive! Richard seeks them out in every city he visits, but good sources are few and far between - and he increasingly uses the internet to buy material.
Some cost thousands of £s, but are often a real gamble because what is seen by the naked eye, or even through a magnifying glass, is not necessarily what will be seen through a highly magnified scanner.
Sometimes a beautiful mineral sample is found to have surface and/or interior flaws which ruin it for these purposes - and sometimes the most uninspiring minerals deliver the most inspiring images.
Many specimens are polished before scanning to reveal the full beauty of the minerals. They are cleaned of traces of polishing powder, dust and other impurities. As this mind-numbing process can take many hours, it is generally undertaken to the background of Radio 4!
Although these images are "drawn by light", and so may properly be called photographs, they are actually produced using digital scanners, not cameras.
This has several advantages: directness; no complications with lighting; and the large file sizes (up to 5GB for each image).
Most images are produced with an A4 photo-scanner using either reflected or transmitted light. The same specimen may present completely different colours according to the way it has been scanned, and even after several years of getting to know minerals, frustratingly few yield anything worthwhile!
Richard also uses an A3 scanner that has an adjustable focal plane, which gives a sharper image from irregular rather than flat mineral specimens.
The scanner reveals remarkable detail and subtlety of colour not apparent to the naked eye, and with some minerals the results are wholly unexpected. Tourmaline, for example, superficially resembles a piece of coal, yet - after trying many angles of attack - Richard's efforts yielded two fascinating images that he has been unable to equal since.
Of all the minerals, quartz is among the most expensive and - from an image-making point of view - the most elusive. It is impossible to predict how the scanner will see the evanescent inclusions of gases and minerals, fracture planes and other features that render quartz crystals endlessly fascinating.
When they work , however, the results are a pure delight.