Early Color Photography

The Emir of Bukhara, 1911
The Emir of Bukhara, 1911

In the early 1900's, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, photographer to Tsar Nicholas II, set about the Russian Empire to document its people and their daily life and work. These are some of the earliest color photos.

Prokudin-Gorskii's photos were processed by overlapping red, green and blue filters. You can detect this process in some of the photos that have movement, for example in this photo the supervisor of the floodgate has stood very still so not to blur the photo but the rushing water behind betrays him.

What I find most interesting about these photos is that they were taken in a time that has mainly been represented in black and white. It's strange to see these olden times in color. It makes them seem more real but also a little more strange because it's out of character to how we've seen these times in prior photos.