Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

Harvest time

This month Howard drew my attention  to this collection of extraordinary colour photographs taken between 1909 and 1912 in Russia. The photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II.  He travelled the length and breadth of the then Russian empire.  He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters.


The intention was to later recombine and project the three plates with filtered lanterns to show a coloured composite image.  Many of the images however were never shown, but were in storage for many years.

The US Library of Congress,  purchased the original glass plates back in 1948.  In 2000 archivists  invited photographers to recombine the images using computer technology.  The resultant high quality images, often with bright colours, make it difficult to believe that these images were taken over 100 years ago, at a time when neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun.  A time warp.