Russia in color, a century ago

I just came across these amazing photos from Russia, they were taken in 1910, one hundred years ago! They are not hand colored black and white prints they are actual color prints derived using a three plate camera that exposed three images through red, green and blue filters, from these negatives realistic color slides could be made, the slides were projected. It’s exactly the same process that Technicolor motion picture film used in Hollywood in the 1930’s except that a technicolor camera was a huge beast that ran three 1000ft rolls of B&W film simultaneously and had three lenses each with a color filter. The films that you saw were not produced photographically, they were printed on film in the same manner as color magazine photographs.
The prints are at:

7 thoughts on “Russia in color, a century ago

  1. thanks for this GF – incredible photos and it feels so strange to see that time in colour….it puts a whole new perspective on it

  2. @ gf – thank you so much for sharing these with us. I am utterly stunned by their beauty and clarity. I spend a lot of my time working (and therefore living) in the past and I always find it very hard to remember that the world has always been in colour! These images will help me with that in future.

  3. Absolutely stunning photographs.

    Some of them are so sharp and with such saturated colour that they look almost hyper-real.

    The thing that strikes me is the cleanliness of everywhere, no air pollution, clear skies etc.


  4. To me the most interesting aspect of these photos, apart from the color, is the sharpness of the images, that’s what gives them such a distinct look. We’re so used to any photographs taken before WW2 being unsharp and slightly out of focus, compare those to modern photos, even amateur’s pictures taken with a cell phone, and it’s like chalk and cheese. It wasn’t really until Leica started producing lenses for miniature cameras in the ’30’s that the quality increased dramatically.
    The fact that the photos were for Tsar Nicholas obviously had something to do with the quality of the optics and the registration.

  5. stunning photos – odd the way some of the river shots split the colour and some have beautiful flow, like a Minor White image. guess it depended on the speed of the water. The Human subjects have stayed motionless perfectly for what would have been quite long exposures. Interesting.

  6. GF, I’ve just caught up with these having been off-line for a while. Have just spent an hour looking at them. Absolutely amazing. I tried 3-D glasses too, photo 14 in particular works very well, and 4, with the old woman sat by the lake. I found the picture of the dog strangely poignant.

    My dad was born in 1913 – not Russian, obviously – but it brings home how near and yet how far we are from that time. If he was alive now, I don’t know what he’d think – I still have aunts in their ’90s who have seen so much.

    Thank you very much.

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