Posted in communication and networking, engineering, museum, Optics

Color photos from 1909 Russia

These are amazing! This guy was creating color photos at the turn on the last century.

self portrait
self portrait

“The photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) offer a vivid portrait of a lost world–the Russian Empire on the eve of World War I and the coming revolution. His subjects ranged from the medieval churches and monasteries of old Russia, to the railroads and factories of an emerging industrial power, to the daily life and work of Russia’s diverse population.

“Between 1909-1912, and again in 1915, he completed surveys of eleven regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation.

“We know that Prokudin-Gorskii intended his photographic images to be viewed in color because he developed an ingenious photographic technique in order for these images to be captured in black and white on glass plate negatives, using red, green and blue filters. He then presented these images in color in slide lectures using a light-projection system.”

I am utterly blown away every time I look at these. The technology that went in to making these photos, and the amazing artistry of the photos themselves. Plus the fact that nobody figured out a similar system or other method for color photos until decades later. WOW!

Nomadic Kazakhs on the Steppe
Nomadic Kazakhs on the Steppe


Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.