Aspen Ethos
Aspen Ethos
Aspen Ethos
Aspen Ethos

Christopher Burkett

Aspen Ethos

Colorado, 2006

Original Cibachrome Photograph

Pristine condition

certified authentic
Add to Collection $2,000.00
Aspen Ethos
Aspen Ethos
Aspen Ethos
Aspen Ethos



Original Cibachrome photograph by Christopher Burkett, “Aspen Ethos, Colorado.” Individually handmade by Christopher Burkett from 8×10-format transparency film. Mounted on cotton rag Antique Rising Museum Board. Signed in pencil on mount with title, date and edition number on verso.

The 40×50″ Museum Edition is limited to 15 total. The next available in the edition is 4. Due to the size and delicate nature of the artworks, they must be shipped directly to a professional framer of your choice. For clients in the Bay Area, we also offer framing and installation services. Please for additional information.



“In 2006, my wife Ruth and I went on another cross country photo trip, first stopping in Colorado. When we arrived, the aspen trees were in full color and the weather was sunny and relatively calm. I was able to make some photographs under those conditions in about six days, including Cheerful Aspens, Forest Light‚ and Oxbow Aspens.

But then a vigorous storm, with gusty rain mixed with snow, came in for two days, so we retreated to a hotel in Crested Butte until the storm passed. When we ventured out we discovered that the storm had stripped almost all of the leaves off the trees. That was the bad news. The good news was that the wind was calm and the sky overcast, so there was still potential for some good images.

We loaded up our camper van and headed back into the mountains, finding this tree about ten miles west of Crested Butte. To the casual eye, it might have seemed as though there wasn’t much to photograph here. But from experience I knew that between the soft light and the delicate tonal relationship between the overcast sky, the white tree branches would record quite well on the transparency film. And I knew what I could do with that film in my darkroom to make a luminous Cibachrome.

One of the unique properties of making positive to positive, as opposed to the usual negative to negative, is that the tone reproduction curve for Cibachrome material is much like the tone reproduction curve of transparency film. This has its unique pluses and minuses. In this case, I knew that if I exposed the transparency so the image on the film was darker than I wanted the Cibachrome to be, I could make the image lighter on Cibachrome and hold more detail and delicacy in the lightest values than if the transparency was as bright as the image I was visualizing that moment.

I set up my 8×10 camera, which turned out to be difficult because I had to set up my tripod against a steep slope and use the rising front on the camera to the maximum amount to avoid the “converging verticals” effect (the top of vertical items tilt toward the center). A compendium lens shade was necessary to avoid flare from the sky but the only way to confirm that it wasn’t going to vignette the image was to remove the camera back and examine the aerial image.

Using my spotmeter, I placed the lighter trunk values on Zone V, middle grey, knowing I would reproduce those tones on the final print about 1.5 stops brighter, on Zone VI 1/2. As is often the case, I made only one exposure of this image, confident the exposure was correct and the wind was calm. When I later examined the processed film in my darkroom I knew the image had potential, but it wasn’t until seven years later that I finally made the Cibachrome for the first time.

I spent three full days working on making a Cibachrome that expressed what I visualized and felt when I first saw the tree. It took a lot of re-dos on the contrast masking and many full size work prints to fine tune the color balance since the colors and tones are quite delicate.

I titled it Aspen Ethos because for me this image could have the feeling of an archetype of the great aspen forests of Colorado and the west.”


All Christopher Burkett photographs sold at Photography West are new and in pristine condition. HD videos of the individual piece you are purchasing are available upon request. For more information, please


Christopher Burkett has labored for over four decades to create what many regard as the most impeccable and luminous color photographs in the history of photography. Gifted with a contemplative spirit as well as painter’s eye, Burkett has an uncommon ability to capture the natural world in a manner that simultaneously reflects “the world behind the world” as Minor White and Paul Caponigro might have put it. And although Burkett has been compared by curators to American color landscape photographers Eliot Porter and Ernst Haas, whose genre of American landscape photography he extended, neither of them exclusively developed their own film, nor attempted the darkroom standard clearly in evidence upon viewing Burkett’s original Cibachromes.

christopher burkett in his darkroom


Cibachrome, also known as Ilfochrome, is among the most stable of all color photographic processes. The dyes reside within the emulsion layers, giving the photograph its characteristic color saturation. The base is a polyester triacetate, rather than fiber-based paper, which adds to the longevity. It was a positive-to-positive photographic process based on the Gasparcolor process, created in 1933 by Bela Gaspar, a Hungarian chemist. Purchased after the merger of Ilford UK and Ciba-Geigy Photochemie of Switzerland, the process was first trademarked and marketed as Cibachrome in 1963. Each Cibachrome is composed of ten layers containing various combinations of light-sensitive silver halides and dyes that are sensitive to blue, green, or red light waves, which gives it an incredible depth and three-dimensional quality. After exposure of a positive, either through an enlarger or direct contact, the Cibachrome must be developed with black-and-white developing chemicals. This step creates a silver negative image within the layers. Next, the photograph must be bleached. The bleaching rids the photograph of dyes in proportion to the amount of silver that has been developed in the previous step and produces a positive dye image in color. In 2011, Cibachrome/Ilfochrome products were discontinued and it is now considered a historical process.