I was delighted to discover these photos in the side bar of an article I was reading. They are beautiful, but also a technical tour de force, given how the photographer had to create the colours in an early era of photography, even of black and white photography. That he was employed by Tsar Nicholas II, to document different aspects of the Russian Empire, gives an added historical and ethnographic interest to the aesthetics of these images.
I quote from the original article, Russia in Color a Century Ago, by Alan Taylor:
With images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time - when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948.I sent these to a Russian friend who was delighted with them, but I thought they were also relevant here, as showing the extent and history of the Ummah in former Russian and Soviet territories; including the countries from whence some of the wives of King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, his ancestors, and his descendants hailed. Further background and links can be found on Wikipedia: Islam and Russia, including the History of Islam in Russia.
Taylor's original photo-article closes with "More links and information: The Empire That Was Russia - Library of Congress; Prokudin-Gorskii Collection - Library of Congress." Of particular interest are the articles on Photographer to the Tsar: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, with a separate Chronology, Making Color Images, which shows the composites required to make some of the photos below, and describes the technique in more detail, and Ethnic Diversity, which gives more detail, including about some of the photos below. The full Prokdin-Gorskii Collection, of 2,607 images, is searchable by topic, region, image format, etc.
Images from the Empire of Russia c.1909-12
From the Ummah
From Elsewhere in the Russian Empire
What stands out most for you about these photos?
Any particular favourites?
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions?
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