Christopher Burkett


Oregon, 1988

Original Cibachrome Photograph

Image dimensions: 20 x 20
Mounted dimensions: 28 x 29

Pristine condition

certified authentic
Add to Collection — $1,500



Original Cibachrome photograph, “Helios.” 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.



“When my wife Ruth and I returned from our 1987 five-month photo trip around eastern Canada and much of the US we had quite a few worthwhile images, but not much money. So at the beginning of 1988 Ruth went back to work as a paramedic and I got a job running high end drum scanners for a color separation company and continued work on remodeling our home and getting ready to install my first Kreonite Cibachrome processor in our basement.

With very full schedules we weren’t able to go on any photo trips in 1988. In July I stopped at a country farm market where they grew their own produce. They had planted a row of sunflowers next to the road and I asked if I could purchase one small sunflower head. They hadn’t thought about selling any of them this early in the season, but I offered them a good price and was able to bring this one home with me.

I set about finding the best way to photograph the enticing center of this sunflower blossom. The portion of the sunflower in this photograph is only about 3” from edge to edge. I tried using my Hasselblad with extension tubes, but I couldn’t get the effect I wanted. I had recently made an adaptor for my 8×10 camera that allowed me to mount my Hasselblad camera on it. By doing so, I could use some of the front view camera adjustments to match the plane of focus to the plane of the subject matter.

I fastened the small sunflower to a spare tripod I had and illuminated it with the soft light coming though the 4×4’ skylight in our dining room. I used a Fujinon A 240mm lens and exposed Fujichrome 50 transparency film, calculating the exposure with a significant bellows extension factor added. I didn’t write down the exposure time but I remember it was in the 10-20 second range. This was the only photograph I made in 1988.

When I saw the processed film, I was pleased with the image but didn’t successfully make a Cibachrome of it until 2008, 20 years later. It is extremely difficult to get the proper amount of shape and shading to the multitude of bright yellows and to preserve a sense of depths to the image. The photograph has a strong graphic quality which is accentuated by being reproduced larger than life: in the 30×30” size it is about 10X life size.

There’s a reason this plant is called a sunflower… the image of the sun is unmistakeable. Thus the title of this image: ‘Helios’ is the Greek name for the sun.”


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.