In the early years, Richard estimates he spent over 4,000 hours and £80,000 creating the original mineral collection - and there are few short cuts, unfortunately!
The problem is that what is seen by the naked eye, or even through a magnifying glass, is not necessarily what will be seen through the highly magnified scanners (not cameras) that we use.
Sometimes a beautiful mineral sample is found to have surface or interior flaws which ruin it for our purposes - yet sometimes the most uninspiring minerals deliver the most inspiring images.
Tourmaline, for example, superficially resembles a piece of coal (see right), yet - after trying many angles of attack - Richard's efforts yielded two fascinating images that he has been unable to equal since (one on the right), while with quartz it is impossible to predict what images the evanescent inclusions of gases and minerals, fracture planes and other features will produce.
When they work, however, the results are a pure delight, and worth all the frustrations and disappointments.
Recently, we have been investing even more in developing a large database of naturally sourced images, and have well over 10,000 high resolution images including trees, plants, animals, inks in water and historic buildings as well as licensing rights to images ranging from dinosaurs to Ford car paints, and Darwin's Gallapagos Collection to alcoholic drinks.
What unites them is the file size. While a digital camera will typically produce a 5MB image, our images range from 1GB to 5GB - over 1,000 times larger - meaning that we could print a single image on a piece of silk 50 metres long and the image would not pixilate.
Nature and digital technology combining to create the naturally exclusive and wholly original. It's a totally inspiring process.