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Color photography... a century ago? - Mark's Journal
Color photography... a century ago?

I'm always intrigued by vintage photography, and love the variety of techniques that evolved starting about 160 years ago, some of which came and went, but some of which became part of modern film photography. (Never mind that "modern film photography" sounds anachronistic.)

Last Friday's The Big Picture from the Boston Globe is a collection of dozens of photos taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, roughly a hundred years ago. The collection was all taken between 1909 and 1912 as part of a photographic survey of the Russian Empire, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II.

What's remarkable to me about these photos isn't that they were taken, though honestly, looking at the Google Maps links to see how far he traveled is pretty inspiring, too. What's remarkable to me is that they're in color, years before color photography was developed. His technique to take three black and white images in quick succession, using red, green, and blue filters, and then combining them, could well have been a precursor that led to the development of three-color film.

Really some gorgeous images here, and as the Globe points out, it's amazing to think that all of these images predate the Russian Revolution and World War I.

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polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: August 26th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure if it was my high school library or Bobst Library at NYU (possibly both) that had National Geographics in bound volumes going back to the magazine's founding, but the quality of the pre-Kodachrome color photographs was always fascinating to me. It could mostly be used for portraiture or slow-moving subjects (if I recall correctly, Kodachrome initially had an ASA of 10 in 1935; I'll guess that Autochrome and other similar processes were limited to whatever the sensitivity of the b/w films of the period were)
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