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The inaugural Cody Australian Opal Centre Photographic Prize will boost the image of opal, Australia's national gemstone,
The inaugural Cody Australian Opal Centre Photographic Prize will boost the image of opal, Australia's national gemstone,

Photo competition to boost image of opals

Australia’s national gemstone is being celebrated in the inaugural Cody Australian Opal Centre Photographic Prize, a nationwide photography competition designed to promote opal and opal fields.
The competition was the brainchild of Australian Opal Centre manager Jenni Brammall, who believes opal-related imagery has both artistic and commercial potential.

“The photographic prize will showcase the visual splendour of opal and the Australian opal fields as well as provide a stage for talented photographers to build a treasury of high-quality, opal-related images to celebrate and promote Australia’s national gemstone,” Brammall said.

Brammall hopes the competition will create greater awareness for the Australian opal and translate into increased customer awareness and spending.

“By attracting high-quality entries, the competition will bring this [opal] imagery to the attention of consumers who may not otherwise have had exposure to opal. We think stores could benefit from a closer association with the event in future years,” Brammall said.

“When people get to know opal, they begin to value and desire it as opal catches people by the heart and imagination. But too few Australians get that opportunity,” she added.

A judging panel comprising of respected Sydney-based photographers Greg Weight and Chris Gleisner will preside over the competition. They will select the best photographs based on their artistic merit, success in illustrating the theme of the section entered, and technical proficiency.

Brammall said it was a particular challenge to photograph opals because of how their colours perform differently under varying lights.

“The ever-changing play of colours in opals can make it difficult to find the perfect relationship between light source, camera and stone when capturing patterns that can suddenly seem elusive to the lens,” Brammall said.

The competition contains seven open sections and three junior sections for school students. Winners, first runners-up and second runners-up in the open sections will win $250, $100 and $50 respectively while winners, first runners-up and second runners-up in the junior sections will win $50, $30 and $20 respectively.

There will be a prize of $1,000 for the photograph the judges deem to be the best overall entry while all prize-winning photographs will join the Australian Opal Centre’s public collection of exhibits.

An exhibition of entries will be held between July 26 to 31 at the Australian Opal Centre’s Black Opal Heritage Shed in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, to coincide with the 7th National Opal Symposium and the Lightning Ridge Opal and Gem Festival.

The prize is set to be awarded annually. Future exhibitions will be rotated between New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia on conjunction with the biennial National Opal Symposium and held in Lightning Ridge in non-symposium years.

Results will be announced on July 25, 2011, the opening night of the 7th National Opal Symposium.

Entries close on June 10 2011. Entry forms and conditions of entry are available for download from the Australian Opal Centre's website or can be obtained by calling 02 6829 1667 or emailing Jenni Brammall.

More reading:
Opal: Australia's troubled gemstone
A national travesty

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