Imperial Russia in color photos (without color film)

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by RichardB, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. RichardB

    RichardB Super Moderator

    65
    Mar 23, 2015
    Maryland, US
    More than 100 years ago, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii took color photos of tsarist Russia without color film. In fact, he did not use film at all, so this post may be off-topic at ForeverFilm.org, but his analog process was interesting. Prokudin-Gorskii made 3 black-and-white images of each scene on glass plates, each image using a differently colored filter. From the original negatives, he made b&w positives, through which he could project the different colors of light to recreate the scene in a merged color projection. The US Library of Congress later created digital color images from the original monochrome plates. A sampling of the collection is at washingtonpost.com, and the full collection is at loc.gov.

    21863u.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
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  2. 480sparky

    480sparky FF Regular

    43
    Nov 20, 2015
    Ken
    I've downloaded the original b&w images and have used layers to recreate the same color results. The colors are just astounding.

    And yes, he did use film. That was all that was available at the time.
     
  3. RichardB

    RichardB Super Moderator

    65
    Mar 23, 2015
    Maryland, US
    Hi, Ken. I edited my post to clarify that the original exposures were made on glass plates (rather than flexible film).

    I'd be interested to see what kind of images you've been able to reproduce from the separations. It seems kind of magical to me that 3 b&w images can be combined to recreate a scene in color.
     
  4. 480sparky

    480sparky FF Regular

    43
    Nov 20, 2015
    Ken
    I'll have to dig through my archives to see if I saved any of my results. If not, it's not all that hard to do again.
     
  5. 480sparky

    480sparky FF Regular

    43
    Nov 20, 2015
    Ken
    I managed to find two. What I found was the top image is blue, the middle is green and the bottom is red.

    Rgb-compose-Alim_Khan.


    Gorskii%20test.


    Don't be astounded at the technology. We do the exact same thing every day with our digital cameras. We take a sensor pixel with a red filter in front of it, a sensor pixel with a green filter in front of it, and a sensor pixel with a blue filter in front of it and combine those into one pixel with an RGB color output.


    I've actually done this very same process with my own b&w film, then scanned the negs and used colorization on a computer to recreate the original colors.
     
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  6. 480sparky

    480sparky FF Regular

    43
    Nov 20, 2015
    Ken
    More finds digging around in the attic and basement:

    Here's my bench testing. I took a shot of a color chart with some color film (as a control sample), then ran some b&w through using 3 filters, scanned the negs and recreated the colors as best I could.

    Control:

    1%20Control%20Post.



    Red:

    2%20Red%20Post.


    Green:

    3%20Green%20Post.


    Blue:

    3%20Green%20Post.


    Result:

    Run%205%2085%2045%20Post.
     
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