Glowing Silversword
Glowing Silversword
Glowing Silversword
Glowing Silversword

Christopher Burkett

Glowing Silversword

Hawaii, 1996

Original Cibachrome Photograph

Pristine condition

certified authentic
Add to Collection $1,500.00
Glowing Silversword
Glowing Silversword
Glowing Silversword
Glowing Silversword



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 verso.

The 40×40″ Museum Edition is limited to 15 total. 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 contact us for additional information.



“In 1996, my wife Ruth and I traveled to Hawaii for three weeks to photograph. We photographed for six days and snorkeled for one day on Kawaii, Maui and the Big Island. We brought my 8×10 camera and Hasselblad outfits.

When we were on Maui we visited Haleakalā National Park where there exists a rare species of Silversword plants that live only on the slopes of Haleakalā mountain. We found this particular Silversword that was just beginning to bloom in a raised planting bed by the visitor center.

I was amazed at the glowing light surrounding the central stalk of the plant. This unique glow came from the reflection and transmission of sunlight by small reflective hairs on each small branch. This focused light and heat to the plant’s core, which allowed it to live in the rarefied air on the mountain, above the 7,000’ elevation.

I found the best composition to show this glowing light by using my Zeiss 250mm Superachromat lens combined with a Zeiss 2X teleconverter, which effectively made a 500mm telephoto lens. I made this photograph on Velvia 50 film. The exposure had to be carefully calculated because of the wide range of light values which are at the upper range of the film’s ability to record all of the values.

Making the photograph in the darkroom is not easy – it’s necessary to control the contrast but at the same time allow for maximum luminosity of the glowing areas and full detail in the bright, delicate whites. Cibachrome is the perfect photographic paper to convey the dramatic, glowing light which emanates from the center of this Silversword… The primary subject matter in this photograph is light itself.

To me, it feels as though we may have been allowed a brief peek into a profound mystery of light and life itself. A fitting tribute for Haleakalā, which translates to “house of the sun.” No wonder this is the only place in the world where Silverswords exist.”


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.