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Color Vintage Photos of Russia 100 Years Ago

Let’s go back in time with this striking collection of color vintage photos , taken in the Russian Empire between 1905-1915. These rare old photos of tsarist Russia were made by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky  with the support of Tsar Nicholas II.

PROKUDIN-GORSKY, SELF-PORTRAIT AT THE WATERFALL KIVACH, KARELIA
PROKUDIN-GORSKY, SELF-PORTRAIT AT THE WATERFALL KIVACH, KARELIA

Color photography as known today was not possible 100 years ago, yet it could be imitated by special technology. Photographer took three separate frames of one subject through red, green and blue filters. Then these three monochromatic pictures were projected on the screen through filters of  same colors and superimposed one on another. Therefore they looked like realistic color images  when viewed through a final filter. This three-color technology was also used in unique vintage photos of Old Moscow in 1930 and the same set of RGB – channels (red-green-blue) can be found in modern digital images.

Colored Vintage Photos of TSARIST RUSSIA, PEASANT WOMEN IN 1910.
Color Vintage Photos of TSARIST RUSSIA, PEASANT WOMEN IN 1910.

At the beginning Prokudin-Gorsky studied photochemistry with the German Professor Adolf Miethe to become experienced chemist and artist. He soon reached incredible success in photography. Tsar Nicholas II was so impressed by his works, especially that famous portrait of Leo Tolstoy, that he commissioned the photographer to capture the whole of Russia.

Vintage Photo of Leo Tolstoy
Vintage Photo of Leo Tolstoy

The author fled Russia after the October Revolution, taking the glass negatives with him, that at the end were bought by the Library of Congress in 1948 and published in 1980. Now everyone can see impressive collection of 2607 digital photos, that capture people, objects, historic sites, industry and agriculture, scenes of public life, water and railway transportation routes, villages and towns. High-quality of the image combined with vivid colors makes unbelievable, that we look at the world 100 years ago, when there have been no russian revolution, no world war.

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