Saturday, May 19, 2012


Isn't this portrait absolutely breathtaking?! The intense colors of the robe, wrapped around a sturdy looking man with a sword makes for a mighty powerful image. Last year the Library of Congress made available these 100-year old "color" photos of daily life in Russia, taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944). With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, he took this photo survey of the Russian empire between 1909 and 1912 (before the Russian Revolution or World War I!), making him a pioneer in the field of photojournalism. That alone was pretty remarkable, but that this former chemist made these photos with glass plate negatives and in color is even more extraordinary. Of course, the technology to make color photos wasn't available back then, so wanna know how SMP-G made them?

In a revolutionary process called digichromatography Prokudin-Gorskii used a special camera to make three black and white images in fairly quick succession, each time using red, green and blue filters, then he recombined the images using filtered "magic lanterns" to project the final color photos on a wall. Voilá, RGB—it's genius! Below are some more samples of these photos, and if you'd like to see more click hereYou can also read more at the LOC, and read more in-depth details about the photography process, by clicking here.
Sample of red, green and blue plates

Click to enlarge!

Self portrait of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Type your comments here. If you don't have any of the accounts listed, select "Name/URL" and just put your name. Thanks!