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Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Irtysh and Tobol Rivers: 1912

Irtysh and Tobol Rivers: 1912

The confluence of the Irtysh and Tobol rivers in the Russian Empire. Photograpy by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, 1912. View full size

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Photos for the Tsar

Many of these pictures were in a book called PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THE TSAR edited by Robert A. Allshouse, published by The Dial Press in 1980.

One of the things that struck me about the pictures were several of villages of extremely crude hovels (how did these people survive the winters?) huddling in the shadows of beautiful huge extremely ornate Orthodox churches. My first thought was, no wonder they had a revolution.

More Photos

Here is the site of the Belorussians who deal with the photos of Proskudin-Gorskij. There are many more pictures and some other information. It's a pity that everything is in Russian.


The detail in this panorama is amazing! It feels like one could step right into that two-story building and sit down for a meal or a drink.
Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

A few years ago, when the

A few years ago, when the L.O.C. put up the site, I downloaded the three B&W negatives for one of the images and tried piecing it together in PaintShop Pro to make a color one. It was crude in terms of alignment, but it worked. What makes these images so cool is that they are preserved in B&W form, so the color never fades. They're just stunning! What's also cool is that they capture a way of life that vanished only a couple of years later with the revolution. What a treasure!

Color Process

Operating under permission of the Czar, this guy traversed Russia taking color pictures. He did so by taking three black and white images through red, green and blue filters. They were then re-combined by projectors to produce a full color image. The modern researchers did this by computer, as one would imagine. These are much clearer (if less romantic and impressionistic) than the Autochromes used from the early 1900s until the advent of Kodachrome in the 1930s.


I guess I'm naive, but I had no idea that color photography was available so long ago!


Your viewers may be interested in the Library of Congress site that features many more of these photos as well as informaiton about the photographer and his pioneering color photography:

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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