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Color Images of Russian Empire

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Photos on your screen are nice, but photos on your wall are better!
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A delightful merging of analog and digital technology

A photographer named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) made glass negatives in the early 1900’s that could be used to create color images. He did this by inventing a camera that would take three different frames of the same scene, with different color filters (red, green blue) for each. He displayed the pictures via projection, using the same filters. Even though the negatives were only grayscale images, the result was comparable to that obtained using a color slide film, such as Kodachrome. As a result, we are able to see full-color images of an historical period that otherwise would be seen only in black-and-white.

The whole process is described on the Library of [the USA] Congress, here: The Empire That Was Russia: the Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated.

The original images are on hand-made 3-inch x 9 inch glass negatives. Each negative has three 3×3 images. Archive workers made digital scans of the negatives, cropped the three frames, and used computers to colorize each frame. Then, they superimposed the three color images using layers.

[Click to continue reading Digital Reconstruction: Color Images of Russian Empire : The Corpus Callosum]

The Library of Congress website has several galleries of the images1, some of which are also found at the Wikipedia entry

  1. including Architecture, Ethnic Diversity, Transportation, People at Work []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 28th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , ,

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