Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) received a few patents for his color photo technique. He traveled across Russia in the beginning of the 20th century and made thousands of photos. I visited his exhibition and the photos are really stunning, especially when you understand that they were made 100 years ago but are fully in color. That’s a real lost world of Russia before the Soviet era, before WW2 and WW1.
Gorskii left Russia in 1918, going first to Norway and England before settling in France. By then, the tsar and his family had been executed during the Russian Revolution, and the Communist rule had been established over what was once the Russian Empire. His unique images of Russia on the eve of the revolution — recorded on glass plates — were purchased by the United States’ Library of Congress in 1948 from his heirs.
In 2001, the Library of Congress produced an exhibition, The Empire that was Russia. For this exhibition, the glass plates were scanned and color images were produced digitally from the scanned red, green, and blue monochrome images, using a process called Digichromatography which was developed by Walter Frankhauser.
In 2004, the Library contracted with Blaise Agüera y Arcas to produce an automated color composite of each of the 1,902 negatives from the high resolution digital images of the glass plate negatives. A complete description of his process and a list of other sites that have prepared digital color composite images are in the collection profile at the Library of Congress.
And here are the few photos of some churches in Seliger region that were made by Prokudin-Gorskii almost 100 years ago and each photo goes with a corresponding photo of the same place made nowadays.