Early Color: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (or Gorsky) (1863-1944) was a Russian photographer that offers a vivid visual portrait of the Russian Empire at its height, and more importantly, the architecture, the scenery and the people of the lands that constituted this empire, including the Caucasus region, and Central Asia.

His pictures include a wide array of interesting topics ranging from ancient Central Asian cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand, to interesting people such as the Emir of Bukhara, Imam Shamil's people, to interesting monuments such as mosques, madrasas, Gur-e-Emir (the Mausoleum of Tamerlane, or Timur Leng), to interesting ethnicities such as Kazakh nomads, Jewish children with teacher, Daghestani tribesmen, and much more. This is a great historical snapshot of the ethnic and cultural landscape in the early 20th century of the Russian empire.

Technologically, his photos were taken using a new technique called Digichromatography. Simply stated, each photo was taken in black and white, but in quick succession, using three filters, red, green, and blue. Then a projector was used to view the pictures using the same three colored filters.




Walt Frankhauser is the developer of the process of producing color images from Prokudin-Gorskii's plates.

He produced all of the color images used by the Library of Congress in its 2001 exhibit and following tour of Russia.

Almost 500 images in color have been produced by Frankhauser. Several may be viewed on the WalterStudio web site, and high quality prints are also available for sale.