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Prokudin-Gorsky: The Empire That Was Russia Options
Daemon
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Prokudin-Gorsky: The Empire That Was Russia

Educated as a chemist, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky devoted himself to the development of early color photography. By taking rapid sequences of monochrome photos through different colored filters and overlaying them, he was able to reconstruct original color scenes. Around 1905, he set out to document the Russian Empire and went on to capture vivid portraits of a lost world—the nation on the eve of World War I and the coming Russian revolution. What did Tsar Nicholas II give him to aid in the project? More...
KSPavan
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Prokudin-Gorsky: The Empire That Was Russia
Educated as a chemist, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky devoted himself to the development of early color photography. By taking rapid sequences of monochrome photos through different colored filters and overlaying them, he was able to reconstruct original color scenes. Around 1905, he set out to document the Russian Empire and went on to capture vivid portraits of a lost world—the nation on the eve of World War I and the coming Russian revolution.
KSPavan
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Article of the Day
Prokudin-Gorsky: The Empire That Was Russia
Educated as a chemist, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky devoted himself to the development of early color photography. By taking rapid sequences of monochrome photos through different colored filters and overlaying them, he was able to reconstruct original color scenes. Around 1905, he set out to document the Russian Empire and went on to capture vivid portraits of a lost world—the nation on the eve of World War I and the coming Russian revolution.
taurine
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What did Tsar Nicolas give him to aid in the project? Think

Permission. End the project 'Russia in Colour'. 🍷
raghd muhi al-deen
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:21:32 AM

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Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
Sergei-Prokudin-Gorski-Larg.jpg
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. Self-portrait on the Korolistskali River, 1912
Born August 30 [O.S. August 18] 1863
Funikova Gora, Russian Empire
Died September 27, 1944 (aged 81)
Paris, France
Resting place Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery
Nationality Russian
Known for Early techniques for taking colour photographs

Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky (Russian: Серге́й Миха́йлович Проку́дин-Го́рский, ; August 30 [O.S. August 18] 1863 – September 27, 1944) was a Russian chemist and photographer. He is best known for his pioneering work in color photography of early 20th-century Russia.[1]
Biography
Early life

Prokudin-Gorsky was born in the ancestral estate of Funikova Gora, in what is now Kirzhachsky District, Vladimir Oblast. His parents were of the Russian nobility, and the family had a long military history.[2] They moved to Saint Petersburg, where Prokudin-Gorsky enrolled in Saint Petersburg State Institute of Technology to study chemistry under Dmitri Mendeleev. He also studied music and painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts.
Marriage and career in photography

In 1890, Prokudin-Gorsky married Anna Aleksandrovna Lavrova, and later the couple had two sons, Mikhail and Dmitri, and a daughter, Ekaterina.[3] Anna was the daughter of the Russian industrialist Aleksandr Stepanovich Lavrov, an active member in the Imperial Russian Technical Society (IRTS).[3] Prokudin-Gorsky subsequently became the director of the executive board of Lavrov's metal works near Saint Petersburg and remained so until the October Revolution. He also joined Russia's oldest photographic society, the photography section of the IRTS, presenting papers and lecturing on the science of photography.[4] In 1901, he established a photography studio and laboratory in Saint Petersburg. In 1902, he traveled to Berlin and spent six weeks studying color sensitization and three-color photography with photochemistry professor Adolf Miethe, the most advanced practitioner in Germany at that time.[5] Throughout the years, Prokudin-Gorsky's photographic work, publications and slide shows to other scientists and photographers in Russia, Germany and France earned him praise,[3] and in 1906 he was elected the president of the IRTS photography section and editor of Russia's main photography journal, the Fotograf-Liubitel.[4]
Lithograph print of Leo Tolstoy in front of Prokudin-Gorsky's camera in Yasnaya Polyana, 1908

Perhaps Prokudin-Gorsky's best-known work during his lifetime was his color portrait of Leo Tolstoy,[6] which was reproduced in various publications, on postcards, and as larger prints for framing.[3][7] The fame from this photo and his earlier photos of Russia's nature and monuments earned him invitations to show his work to the Russian Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1908, and to Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1909.[4] The Tsar enjoyed the demonstration, and, with his blessing, Prokudin-Gorsky got the permission and funding to document Russia in color.[8] In the course of ten years, he was to make a collection of 10,000 photos.[9] Prokudin-Gorsky considered the project his life's work and continued his photographic journeys through Russia until after the October Revolution.[3] He was appointed to a new professorship under the new regime, but he left the country in August 1918.[10] He still pursued scientific work in color photography, published papers in English photography journals and, together with his colleague S. O. Maksimovich, obtained patents in Germany, England, France and Italy.[3]
Later life and death

In 1920, Prokudin-Gorsky remarried and had a daughter with his assistant Maria Fedorovna née Schedrimo. The family finally settled in Paris in 1922, reuniting with his first wife and children.[4] Prokudin-Gorsky set up a photo studio there together with his three adult children, naming it after his fourth child, Elka. In the 1930s, the elderly Prokudin-Gorsky continued with lectures showing his photographs of Russia to young Russians in France, but stopped commercial work and left the studio to his children, who named it Gorsky Frères. He died at Paris on September 27, 1944 a month after the Liberation of Paris. He is buried in the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery.[3]
Photography technique
The three-color principle
Crop from Alleia Hamerops showing the red, green and blue color channels as well as the composite image

The method of color photography used by Prokudin-Gorsky was first suggested by James Clerk Maxwell in 1855 and demonstrated in 1861, but good results were not possible with the photographic materials available at that time. In imitation of the way a normal human eye senses color, the visible spectrum of colors was divided into three channels of information by capturing it in the form of three black-and-white photographs, one taken through a red filter, one through a green filter, and one through a blue filter. The resulting three photographs could either be projected through filters of the same colors and exactly superimposed on a screen, synthesizing the original range of color additively; viewed as an additive color image by one person at a time through an optical device known generically as a chromoscope or photochromoscope, which contained colored filters and transparent reflectors that visually combined the three into one full-color image; or used to make photographic or mechanical prints in the complementary colors cyan, magenta and yellow, which, when superimposed, reconstituted the color subtractively.[11]
Early practitioners

The first person to widely demonstrate good results by this method was Frederic E. Ives, whose "Kromskop" system of viewers, projectors and camera equipment was commercially available from 1897 until about 1907. Only the viewers and ready-made triple photographs for use in them sold in any significant quantity. Still life arrangements, unpopulated landscapes and oil paintings were the typical subject matter, but a few examples of color portraiture from life were also offered. Several Kromskop color views of the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, apparently never issued commercially, have recently come to light.

Another very notable practitioner was Adolf Miethe, with whom Prokudin-Gorsky studied in Germany in 1902.[5] Miethe was a photochemist who greatly improved the panchromatic characteristics of the black-and-white photographic materials suitable for use with this method of color photography. He presented projected color photographs to the German Imperial Family in 1902 and was exhibiting them to the general public in 1903,[5] when they also began to be published in periodicals and books. Miethe took the first known aerial color photographs, from a hot air balloon, in 1906.
Equipment

Photographic plates, which had the light-sensitive emulsion coated on a thin sheet of glass, were normally used instead of flexible film, both because a general transition from glass plates to plastic film was still in progress and because glass provided the best dimensional stability for three images intended to match up perfectly when they were later combined.

An ordinary camera could be used to take the three pictures, by reloading it and changing filters between exposures, but pioneering color photographers usually built or bought special cameras that made the procedure less awkward and time-consuming. One of the two main types used beam splitters to produce three separate images in the camera, allowing all three exposures to be made at the same time and from the same viewpoint. Although a camera of this type was ideal in theory, such cameras were optically complicated and delicate and liable to get out of adjustment. Some designs were also subject to optical phenomena that could cause noticeably uneven color or other defects in the results. The other, more robust type was an essentially ordinary camera with a special sliding holder for the plates and filters that allowed each in turn to be efficiently shifted into position for exposure, an operation that was sometimes partly or even entirely automated by means of a pneumatic mechanism or spring-powered motor.[11]

When the three color-filtered photographs were not taken at the same time, anything in the scene that did not hold steady during the entire operation would exhibit colored "fringes" around its edges in the resulting color image. If it moved continuously across the scene, three separate strongly-colored "ghost" images could result. Such color artifacts are plainly visible in ordinary color composites of many of Prokudin-Gorsky's photographs, but special digital image processing software was used to artificially remove them, whenever possible, from the composites of all 1902 of the images commissioned by the Library of Congress in 2004.[12] The altered versions have proliferated online and older or third-party versions showing these tell-tale peculiarities are increasingly scarce.[13]

Adolf Miethe designed a high-quality color camera of the sequential-exposure type which was manufactured by Bermpohl and available commercially beginning in 1903. Prokudin-Gorsky published an illustration of it in Fotograf-Liubitel in 1906. The most common model used a single oblong plate 9 cm wide by 24 cm high, the same format as Prokudin-Gorsky's surviving negatives, and it photographed the images in unconventional blue-green-red sequence, which is also a characteristic of Prokudin-Gorsky's negatives if the usual upside-down image in a camera and gravity-compliant downward shiftings of his plates are assumed.[14] An inventor as well as a photographer, Prokudin-Gorsky patented an optical system for cameras of the simultaneous-exposure type,[15] and it is often claimed or implied that he invented, or at least built, the camera used for his Russian Empire project.

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