We were asked to photograph a series of these polished opals by Becky Lee Osterback- a remarkable woman with a great personal story. They were quite small- most are about a half-inch across. Macro lenses were not enough, so we figured out a new way of extending the lens and increasing the magnification to make the most of these stones. Some experimentation proved that the use of multiple-source polarized light was the way to bring out their richness of color and pattern.

Each gemstone has a story behind it and a name. If you look at this stone with a bit of imagination, the reason for the name "Mother Mary" becomes apparent. There is much more to this story including a shamanistic friend of Becky Lee's named Janet who is currently, and willingly, snowed-in in the northern reaches of Washington State. She acquired these opals through a mysterious series of events which gives them great meaning to her. Janet's story is beyond what can be expressed here. Suffice to say that this profession leads down some very interesting paths indeed.

[Photographed by Craig Sweat]

AuthorJ. Craig Sweat