Photographic Innovation: Prokudin-Gorskii

August 1, 2006 at 12:02 pm 1 comment

Gorskii colourIn the very early 1900’s colour photography was exceedingly rare, and there certainly was no form of colour film in Russia at the time. Around 1905, a chemist who had devoted his life to advancing photographic technology, decided to systematically document the Russian empire in colour using his own innovative technique. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii developed a camera that took three consecutive monochrome images in rapid succession. Each photograph was taken through a different coloured filter, which results in a set of negatives that can be used to reconstruct the colour information to create a colour photograph. While Prokudin-Gorskii would generally display his images by projecting the correct coloured lights through them to achieve a slide-show type effect, he also had some success in his experiments to produce actual colour prints. Nonetheless, it was only with the advent of digital photography that his images were able to be properly used to create proper high resolution full colour prints, using a technique known as “digichromatography”.

I sort of stumbled on an article about this and decided to do some reading around. I thought that the idea was really novel and so forward thinking that I just had to write something about it. It is incredible to think that through a man’s simple innovation, we can still get a rare glimpse of the colour of the world nearly one hundred years ago.


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Joke Open Source for Libraries

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Karen  |  January 8, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Very helpful, thanks.


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