29 August 2010
What makes the internet utterly worthwhile I
Much as I love the Poor Mouth it does not add much to the world’s knowledge (one or two photos aside perhaps). What really makes it utterly worthwhile is the vast amount of information and art being made available online.
Today’s Independent carried an item about one such collection, the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection which has been made available by the Library of Congress. The above photo is from the collection is of the last Emir of Bukhara
Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky, was one of the earliest pioneers of colour photography. His collection of stills from Russia – taken between 1909 and 1915 – provide us with an astonishingly saturated window into a past that is usually only ever seen through a black and white prism.
For decades, the photographs remained hidden after they were purchased from his grandchildren by the US in 1948 and then stored in the archives of Washington's Library of Congress. But now, a century after Prokudin-Gorsky toured the length and breadth of the Russian Empire, his 1,900 photographs have been brought back to life and digitised for all to see.
and the incredible amount of detail Prokudin-Gorsky was able to capture," said Helena Zinkham, the acting chief of prints and photographs at the Library of Congress. "He wasn't the only one using this technique at the time but he was one of the few that did it very well."
Prokudin-Gorsky, a Russian noble and chemist who trained in St Petersburg, captured colour by using a camera that recorded three different exposures in succession on the same glass-plate negative. Each exposure, which would usually take anything between three and six seconds, was made with a different coloured filter in front of the lens: red, green and blue.
The triple negatives would then be laid on top of one another and placed in a projector that created a single, full-colour composite.
It is thought that Russia's first published colour portrait, taken by Prokudin-Gorsky
The photos are truly amazing and giving us a window into a world that is gone. It’s not the race haters, the pornographers or the lunatic conspiracy theorists that make the internet worth the effort, it is availability of collections like this.