The Russian Empire in 1915 by Prokudin-Gorskii

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The Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection features color photographic surveys of the vast Russian Empire made between ca. 1905 and 1915. Frequent subjects among the 2,607 distinct images include people, religious architecture, historic sites, industry and agriculture, public works construction, scenes along water and railway transportation routes, and views of villages and cities. An active photographer and scientist, Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook most of his ambitious color documentary project from 1909 to 1915. The Library of Congress purchased the collection from the photographer’s sons in 1948. Color Photography Method: Prokudin-Gorskii created his negatives by using a camera that exposed one oblong glass plate three times in rapid succession through three different color filters: blue, green, and red. For formal presentations, he printed positive glass slides of these negatives and projected them through a triple lens magic lantern. Prokudin-Gorskii would project the slide through the three lenses, and, with the use of color filters, superimpose the three exposures to form a full color image on a screen. (For more illustrations of Prokudin-Gorskii’s methods, see the “Making Color Images” section of the exhibit, The Empire That Was Russia.) This collection counts over 2600 photographies, all downloadable in very high resolution.

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