Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples

Christopher Burkett

Clearwater River Ripples

Idaho, 1994

Original Cibachrome Photograph

Pristine condition

certified authentic
Add to Collection $3,000.00
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples
Clearwater River Ripples



Original Cibachrome photograph individually handmade by Christopher Burkett from 6×6-format transparency film, mounted on cotton rag Antique Rising Museum Board. Signed in pencil on mount with title, date and edition number on mount verso.

The 40×40″ Museum Edition is currently sold out. Please for secondary market availability and pricing.



Clearwater River Ripples by Christopher Burkett is the most sophisticated color landscape abstraction I’ve ever seen in the history of photography. Color landscape photography can often be static and monotonous, because it’s such a literal translation of what we see. Most landscape photographers take pictures of trees, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, etc. Not Christopher. Christopher Burkett composes his photographs the way a painter paints: his focus is on shape, texture and color. Unlike most of his other images, however, the subject of Clearwater River Ripples – is – the color/shape/texture, which is what makes it so sophisticated and unique.

It is one of the only photographs I must have in the gallery at all times – it is constant entertainment. I also never put a wall-tag on it for the simple reason I love hearing what people think it is. You learn quite a bit about a person based purely on how they interpret that photograph. If they recognize it immediately, they live (or lived) near a river, or a lake and many times, fish. Fly fishermen recognize it immediately, because they’re used to looking at the water at that angle.

The first time I hung the photograph in the gallery, an Australian couple walked in and thought it was an Aboriginal painting. Shortly thereafter, a gentleman came in and insisted “that is exactly what the huts on the shore of Thailand look like from a boat.” When I told that story to a client a few weeks later, she exclaimed – “Actually, that’s exactly what they look like from a plane!” – and immediately purchased it for her office in Thailand. I’ve also had over a dozen dermatologists come in the gallery and inform me it is exactly what epithelial cells look like under a microscope. From gum walls to marbles, I’ve literally heard it all, but most people think it’s a photograph of leaves reflecting on water, or some sort of reflection on water. As a matter of fact, one of my clients purchased it exclusively as a conversation piece for his dining room. After his first dinner party, he came running in the gallery and exclaimed, “That is officially THE BEST art purchase I’ve ever made! My friend stared at it for 2 hours straight, barely said a word the entire dinner and at the end of the dinner his face was beet red. He suddenly threw up his hands and said, ‘Okay I give up! Whose face am I supposed to see in that photograph?!?” Many dog lovers often see a Beagle swimming under the water in the lower right… The list of interpretations is endless, but one thing remains the same – very much like a river itself, the subject of the photograph is a reflection of the person viewing it. While various interpretations are common when viewing other art mediums, I’ve never seen that sort of response to a straight, un-manipulated, color landscape photograph before, which is why I believe it is one of the most important photographs in the history of the medium.



“In 1994, my wife and I begin our photo trip in the fall by first going to Glacier National Park in Montana. On our way there we passed through Idaho and traveled along the Clearwater River. At one point we stopped at around noon and I became mesmerized by the light playing on the extremely clear water in the river.

The colorful reflections of the trees, sky and stream bank mingled with the stones beneath the water in a fascinating interplay of light, shapes and patterns. Using the Superachromat lens on my Hasselblad, I made this one exposure.

Not realizing that this image had great potential, it languished in my darkroom for ten years with film from many other photographic trips until I was looking to find a few more images to include in my Resplendent Light book. As soon as I began to make a Cibachrome of this image I realized it was going to exceed my expectations in every way. It requires great finesse in the darkroom to allow the image to express its maximum potential through a luminous Cibachrome.

To me, the finished exhibition quality Cibachromes convey much of that vibrant, shimmering light which I saw and experienced many years ago. At times the image can appear to somehow mysteriously convey a palpable, exuberant feeling of the joy and light which fills all of creation.”


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.