Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Opal, Why Are You So Difficult?

I love opals. Who doesn't, right? Well, I guess somebody doesn't like them, but I haven't met that person, yet.

I have a lot of opals and I decided to do something with them. I picked this one for the pure ostentatiousness of it. I was feeling opulent. :) It seems like a million years ago that I bought this rough and had it cut into three stones.

This is a Mintabie opal from Australia. It is solid through and through. It is a whopper, too. 11.7 ct and 24 x 12.5 x 6.16mm. Yes, it is that big. But, it isn't just big. It is really bright and colorful, making it a valuable opal. Problem is I don't know how valuable. I bought the rough, not the stone. So, I did some research on valuing opals. I found lots of interesting sites. One is a site for another wire wrapper. It is essentially what I found everywhere else, but was pulled together into a real concise and informative manner. Here's an opal store Down Under. And, here is one presented by the Australian government. After my mind started glazing over, I realized that none of that did me any good if I couldn't get a decent picture of it, which brings me to the real point of this post. How the heck do you get a decent picture of opal. Let's explore that, shall  we?? (You may begin to sense my frustration.)

Let's look at a couple of less than flattering pictures in the light tent. Keep in mind that when I look at the opal with my eyes, it's bright as a peacock, but as soon as the camera tries to see it, it thinks it's blind or something. However, notice how pretty the silver looks.

Not very impressive is it? I tried to use an led "sparkler" bulb which brings gemstones to life. Here's that picture.

Wow, that didn't help!!

Ok, how about the halogen bulbs in my dining room/work room ...

MUCH better! But, what happened to the pretty silver???? It looks horrible!

As good as the overhead halogens make this look, it is soooo much better in person. The cab is real thick and shot through with color. The depth just doesn't show. This is oriented real well for a pendant. The chain has teeny tiny pearls in it which are just perfect with it. I really love this and would love for you to see how pretty it really is, but alas, I can not, as hard as I try, get a truly representative picture. I won't give up though! Next stop- the backyard on an overcast day.

I keep telling myself that I need good pictures to sell this online. But, truth be told, it may never leave my hands. Maybe, I just have a subconscious desire to take bad pictures of it. 

Do you know how to get a good picture of opal in silver? (I do have a few more, after all.  :)


  1. Tela, it is gorgeous! I don't blame you, I wouldn't be able to part with it either.

    1. Being an opalholic is a tough addiction to break LOL!

  2. Tela, This looks like a gorgeous piece. The pictures I am sure don't show the gem in its true glory. This piece seems like one you should keep for yourself!

  3. I'm still on the fence about keeping it. I do have the other two- almost as big and every bit as colorful, if not more. Tough decision!

  4. Gorgeous stone! If you also wrap the other two you could wear all 3 together ;-) ... thus making the decision easier which one to keep.

    Speaking of wraps - I find this one interesting with the pair of loops, and quite different from your ususal style. May I ask why/how you decided for this kind of loopy bezel instead of your trademark spare lines?

    Btw, the pair-of-loops-wrap design looks like a potential tute. *hint, hint* It has a classic medallion look.

    1. Renate, your idea would be a much too vulgar display of opulence. LOL!!!! Seriously, I'd be like Mrs Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) vacuuming with my opals on.

      Ah ha, observant girl you are! Actually, there is no trick to this. What I did was to fuse the framework for the netting and fuse two jumprings to it so that I could attach the chain. They look big in the picture, but in hand you don't really notice them. Fusing silver is real easy. The only problem is you will mess up a few times, at first, which eats up silver, but it's a real handy skill to have. I just finished some fusing for my next project.

      I decided on this design because opals remind of every thing associated with femininity. I thought the netting would be soft and frilly and also let all the opal be seen. Every once in a while I like to get all girly :) LOL! LOL!

  5. Tela, I did some checking about photographing opals to show their colours. Almost everything I read said natural sunlight shows the colours better than any other light source. I also looked at lots of opal pix in Flickr & checked out their EXIF to learn more. And most of the really nice photos were taken in sunlight.

    So here's my advice. Bear in mind, I don't have an opal to practice on to find the best settings. But if you'd like to send me one of yours, I'll let you know what works best! ;-)

    The position of the sun in the sky will make a difference & I think if you pick earlier or later in the day & lie your opal flat, you'll get some beautiful colours as the sun's rays hit it on the slant. And then the rays will hit it face on when you hang it vertical so it will show lots of colour from different angles.

    I don't know what your camera's settings are nor how much photography you do so this is just a guideline -
    1. Open your aperture as wide as you can (the f-stop) to let in the most light since it's supposed to show the colours best.

    2. But because you'll be taking it in sunlight, choose a VERY fast shutter speed. Play with both till you find what works best without your piece being blinded by too much light. A very fast shutter speed will make it less bright. Make adjustments to aperture &/or shutter speed as needed.

    3. Pick 100 - 200 ISO for clarity - less graininess shows the colours best.

    4. Pick black velour or velvet background. Opals look gorgeous against no-reflective black!

    5.. Don't be afraid of playing with your photo afterwards to show off its true colours. If for any reason, the colours don't look as rich to you, saturate the colours in a graphics program (like Photoshop or GIMP). It shouldn't affect the silver as it has little colour but it will help the opal colours pop. I don't consider it cheating since you're only doing it till the colours look true to eye.

    I'm Jude from JL & I think you can tell from my comment, photography is a PASSION with me! Hope this helps you.

    1. Jude- you are a doll! Thank you for taking so much time to write that for me. During the next nice day, I'm going to try some more pics and keep these things in mind. Thanks again :)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.