Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River

Christopher Burkett

Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River

Utah, 1987

Original Cibachrome Photograph

Pristine condition

certified authentic
Add to Collection $1,500.00
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River
Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River



Original Cibachrome photograph by Christopher Burkett, “Sunlight, Cottonwood & Colorado River.” 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.



In 1987, I purchased my first 8×10 camera, with one lens. For many years I had worked to try to obtain superb image quality but it was only after I saw some prints made from 8×10 transparencies in the early spring of that year, that I realized what equipment I truly needed.
It was a perfect match from the very beginning. I had my camera for two weeks and bought a second lens. Two days after receiving the second lens I left Oregon on a cross-country trip to Connecticut where I was to work for three months, setting up the color department for the Meriden-Stinehour Press.

I was camping out of my car, using a very small tent while I spent two weeks traveling out east. I passed through Utah and spent some time at Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. That morning, I had worked for the last time at Arches and was proceeding up Highway 128, which runs next to the Colorado River. About midday, I came to this cottonwood tree next to the river. The sunlight was backlighting the tree and the cliff was only partly in shadow. I quickly setup the camera, realizing that in only a few minutes, the cliff shadow would come to the base of the tree and could result in a very worthwhile image. I knew from experience that the shadowed areas would pick up the strong blue of the southwestern skies and that this blue would surround and enhance the warm whites of the cottonwood tree in the final image. After carefully composing and focusing the image, I waited for the shadow to lengthen. Within 10 minutes of first seeing the scene, the shadow had arrived and I exposed only one piece of film. Only a few seconds later, the base of the tree and the bright stones at each lower corner were completely in shade.

While I photographed this tree in 1987, it was not until the summer of 1995 that I made the first Cibachrome. This was partly due to the immense popularity of my photograph, Cottonwood and Light, and partly due to the difficulty of making this image to maintain both high brightness as well as separation of tone in the whites. The recent development of a unique, proprietary masking method has given me the necessary darkroom tools for this image.

To me, this photograph is all about light and transformation—almost transfiguration. It reminds me that there is much, much more than the tangible, physical stuff we bump into and usually think of as comprising our world.”


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.