Maple Leaf and Sunlight
Maple Leaf and Sunlight
Maple Leaf and Sunlight
Maple Leaf and Sunlight

Christopher Burkett

Maple Leaf and Sunlight

Oregon, 1986

Original Cibachrome Photograph

Pristine condition

certified authentic
Add to Collection $1,500.00
Maple Leaf and Sunlight
Maple Leaf and Sunlight
Maple Leaf and Sunlight
Maple Leaf and Sunlight



Original Cibachrome photograph, “Maple Leaf and Sunlight.” 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.



“In 1986 I was working full time operating a 40” four color Miele printing press. I worked 12 hours a day, five days a week and usually 8 hours on Saturday. We worked straight through with no breaks whatsoever. Autumn had come and gone. I had not made one photograph.

Finally, I had one Saturday off. The weather was not bad, some sun, some clouds but no rain. I was one year away from getting my 8×10 camera so at the time was only using my Hasselblad. I put my camera outfit and tripod into the car and went out with a burning desire to find a worthwhile image or two.

It was slim pickings out there. The leaves were off all the trees and the colors were dreary. Undissuaded, I kept looking for something that would make a worthwhile photograph. After about an hour I came across this maple leaf in a small stream. The leaf had hung up on a rock and was completely underwater except for the stem that shot skyward. The flowing water created remarkable shapes and patterns.

I put a 21mm extension tube on my 250mm Superachromat lens so that I could focus close enough to get the best composition. I took only one photograph on Fujichrome 50 film. I don’t remember the exposure time but it was quite fortuitous, as the various water swirls and patterns could not be more perfect for this image.

After I made this photograph the sun came out and 15 minutes later I photographed the same leaf with the same lens setup but from a different perspective which resulted in my photograph “Maple Leaf and Sunlight.” That image has swirling scintillations and bright colors. The two images are remarkably different and are a good example of how creative photography can be done with the most humble of subject matter. Those were the only two photographs I made that fall. Two exposures, two photographs. It was enough.

I made my first Cibachrome from this transparency five years later, in 1991. And the first Cibachrome of “Maple Leaf and Sunlight” ten years later, in 1996.”


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.