These Photos Are Over 100 YEARS OLD! A Specialized Camera Used Then Made The Colorization Possible Today

February 27, 2014

Prepare yourself for a trip back to the Russian Empire in the early 1900's. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II.

He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time - when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948.

An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey).

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Self-portrait on the Karolitskhali River, ca. 1910. Prokudin-Gorskii in suit and hat, seated on rock beside the Karolitskhali River, in the Caucasus Mountains near the seaport of Batumi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Molding of an artistic casting (Kasli Iron Works), 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A woman is seated in a calm spot on the Sim River, part of the Volga watershed in 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A chapel sits on the site where the city of Belozersk was founded in ancient times, photographed in 1909.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

View of Tiflis (Tblisi), Georgia from the grounds of Saint David Church, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan), full-length portrait, seated outdoors, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A closer detail view of Isfandiyar, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm. This photo would have been taken near the start of his reign in 1910, when he was 39 years old. He ruled Khorezm until his death in 1918.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

On the Sim River, a shepherd boy. Photo taken in 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Alternators made in Budapest, Hungary, in the power generating hall of a hydroelectric station in Iolotan (Eloten), Turkmenistan, on the Murghab River, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A Georgian woman poses for a photograph, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

General view of Artvin (now in Turkey) from the small town of Svet, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Pinkhus Karlinskii, eighty-four years old with sixty-six years of service. Supervisor of Chernigov floodgate, part of the Mariinskii Canal system. Photo taken in 1909.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

General view of the Nikolaevskii Cathedral from southwest in Mozhaisk in 1911.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand, (in modern Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A switch operator poses on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, near the town of Ust Katav on the Yuryuzan River in 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Cornflowers in a field of rye, 1909.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Laying concrete for the dam's sluice, 1912. Workers and supervisors pose for a photograph amid preparations for pouring cement for sluice dam foundation across the Oka River near Beloomut.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Sart woman in purdah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, ca. 1910. Until the Russian revolution of 1917, "Sart" was the name for Uzbeks living in Kazakhstan.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

General view of the wharf at Mezhevaya Utka, 1912.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Peasants harvesting hay in 1909.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Prokudin-Gorskii rides along on a handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk railway along Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk in 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A water-carrier in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A dog rests on the shore of Lake Lindozero in 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Factory in Kyn, Russia, belonging to Count S.A. Stroganov, 1912.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Russian children sit on the side of a hill near a church and bell tower near White Lake, in Russia, 1909.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara, seated holding a sword in Bukhara, (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A metal truss bridge on stone piers, part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, crossing the Kama River near Perm, Ural Mountains Region, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A boy leans on a wooden gatepost in 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

Nomadic Kirghiz on the Golodnaia Steppe in present-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A man and woman pose in Dagestan, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A general view of Sukhumi, Abkhazia and its bay, seen sometime around 1910 from Cherniavskii Mountain.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

A boy sits in the court of Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand, present-day Uzbekistan, ca. 1910.

100 year old photos in color
Photo: Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC

It really makes me wonder... 100+ years from now, will people be looking at photos of us as children using a CD player and think "I wonder what it was like was back then. Wish I could see it for myself."

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