|No one can just pass by a photo by Christopher Burkett. You stop, affected by the inner luminosity of the image. Is it a photograph? |
“My goal is to show something from all the beautiful worlds that exist but that so few have seen,” explains Burkett, born in Oregon, USA in 1951. He took his first pictures in black and white using a small Crown Grafic camera, moved on to large format, then finally embraced Hasselblad. He has long preferred to work in color. “In my opinion, color images are livelier and express more of the feelings and joy of life.”
Golden Cottonwoods, Colorado, USA 1993. Zeiss Sonnar Superachromat CFi 5.6/250mm, film Fujichrome 50 and Green Ash and Woodbine, Tennessee, USA 1993. Zeiss Sonnar Superachromat CFi 5.6/250mm, film Fuji Velvia 50.
One could describe Christopher as an artist that paints with the camera as his brush and nature as his palette. His artistic feel cannot be missed. But Christopher realized early on that this wasn’t enough. In order to attain the optimal final result, advanced technical knowledge is required, something he gained during his ten years in the printing business and through intensive studies of all the photographic writings he could lay his hands on. His working year is divided so that he spends two months traveling with his wife Ruth. They travel around the USA and he shoots with Fuji Velvia 50 and Provia F 100. The rest of his time is spent working in the darkroom. He makes all his own Cibachrome prints.
Purple and Green Kinnikinnik, Pennsylvania, USA 1998. Zeiss Sonnar Superachromat CFi 5.6/250mm and Crimson Hawthorn Berries, Oregon, USA 2001. Zeiss Makro-Planar Cfi 4/120mm, film Fuji Velvia 50.
In order to create his pictures, unlike many other nature photographers, he shoots in direct sunlight. He uses slide film which, as we know, has a far broader tonal range than is actually possible to transfer to paper. In order to check the contrast, he makes black and white negatives from the slides, which he then prints as a sandwich with exact alignment. In this way he can transfer the tonal range of the slides to paper. He uses additional masks in order to obtain rich colors in the paper copies and to bring out the detail. Finally, he illuminates the copies as if they were slides, with a light box.
To then print these images in books and magazines is somewhat of a challenge.
Snowy Mountainside, Aspens and Sunlight, Colorado, USA 2000. Zeiss Tele-Superachromat CFE 5.6/350mm and 1.4XE teleconverter, film Fuji Velvia 50.
Christopher’s images have been shown at a large number of exhibitions both in and outside the USA. His income stems from selling his copies through a number of galleries, and he also holds workshops where he shares his knowledge. His first book was titled Intimations of Paradise and was published in 1999 through his own publishing house, West Wind Arts. His next book is called Resplendent Light and is due later this year. Christopher is currently working on a new, major exhibition.
Sherando Woods, Virginia, USA 2000. Zeiss Sonnar Superachromat CFi 5.6/250mm, film Fuji Velvia 50.
Christopher’s Hasselblad equipment includes a 501CM, a 205TCC and FlexBody, four A12 and one A24 magazines, and the following lenses: Zeiss Distagon 40, 50, and 60 mm, Planar 80 and 100 mm, Makro-Planar 120 mm, Sonnar 150 and 180 mm, Superachromat 250 mm, Superachromat TPP 300 mm, Superachromat 350 mm with 1.4X APO teleconverter.
You can see more of Christopher’s work at his website.
Sören Gunnarsson / Kerstin Fiedler