Commissioned: New York Times Assignments: NYTimes-assignments8

Mick Cooke walks past his brother Pete who looks through left over rock that washed out of the machine the day before Mick (left) has been living and opal mining in the remote Australia town of Lightning Ridge for the past 20 years. Three years ago Mick's brother Pete permanently relocated to Lightning Ridge and now the brothers mine for opals together. Mick and Pete Cook are involved in opal mining in a number of ways, for example with one set of  other miners they have an agreement to transport all rock material brought up from the mine to Mick Cooke's work site and then process the rocks looking for opals.  Under this agreement the day before the pair managed to find opals they sold for $13,500 to a visiting opal buyer from Sydney. Compared to Light and Boulder opals, Black Opals fetch a higher price for a given colour, clarity and pattern, due to their scarcity. Conor Ashleigh for The New York Times.

Mick Cooke walks past his brother Pete who looks through left over rock that washed out of the machine the day before Mick (left) has been living and opal mining in the remote Australia town of Lightning Ridge for the past 20 years. Three years ago Mick's brother Pete permanently relocated to Lightning Ridge and now the brothers mine for opals together. Mick and Pete Cook are involved in opal mining in a number of ways, for example with one set of other miners they have an agreement to transport all rock material brought up from the mine to Mick Cooke's work site and then process the rocks looking for opals. Under this agreement the day before the pair managed to find opals they sold for $13,500 to a visiting opal buyer from Sydney. Compared to Light and Boulder opals, Black Opals fetch a higher price for a given colour, clarity and pattern, due to their scarcity. Conor Ashleigh for The New York Times.