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Colors of the Past
December 27, 2004 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii took three b&w photos of his subjects using red, green, and blue filters. Now, they've been digitally composited, and we have stunning, authentic color photographs of Russia in the early 1900's.
posted by buriednexttoyou (49 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is awesome.

(Check out the couple of fidgity girls in the 'photographs' link.)
posted by Wolfdog at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2004


I thought history took place in black and white.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2004


Incidentally, I had just a few days ago seen a few of these pictures in the wikipedia entry on Samarkand and I have been wondering about the colors in them.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:36 PM on December 27, 2004


Damn those shifty Commies.
posted by sharksandwich at 3:38 PM on December 27, 2004


Stunning, great find buriednexttoyou.
posted by DV8 2XL at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2004


This was great the last five times it was posted here, too.
posted by keswick at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2004


These are awesome. What foresight on Sergei's part.
posted by trbrts at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2004


Earlier MeFi post.

Other MeFi posts on early color photography in Russia here and here.

Note to posters: please reset Search from "in last year" to "from Day One." Otherwise you're going to double-post from here to eternity.

On preview: keswick, if you're going to snark, at least do the legwork.
posted by languagehat at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2004


i prefer that people take my word as the gospel truth.
posted by keswick at 3:47 PM on December 27, 2004


Damn and blast.

I = n00b.

Sorry, you guys.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 3:49 PM on December 27, 2004


doublepost or not, i missed this first time around, and it's rather stunning.
posted by ori at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2004


I missed it too.... the occasional repost is acceptable when it's of such high quality. Thanks for taking the time to put it up, buried. :-)
posted by Malor at 3:57 PM on December 27, 2004


You = n00b with great tastes in links, though. If your next FPP is a non-dupe of the same quality as this one, I will be hinging on your very post.
posted by Bugbread at 4:03 PM on December 27, 2004


What Malor said.
posted by coelecanth at 4:05 PM on December 27, 2004


Thanks, guys. I will do my best to learn the ways of the filter and repent for my DP.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:08 PM on December 27, 2004


Earlier MeFi post.

Yeah: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/7504 -- to a post from May 7th, 2001. Three and a half YEARS ago.

How impressively pedantic of you, languagehat!

Other MeFi posts on early color photography in Russia here
and here.


And a link to a post from Jan. 22, 2004, and then one from Jan. 16th, 2004. Two doubleposts in four days-- I presume you did your snarky duty then too, right?

Note to posters: please reset Search from "in last year" to "from Day One." Otherwise you're going to double-post from here to eternity.

Note to posters: please ignore that. Twice in four days is a bit repetitious, but twice in 3.5 YEARS counts as "a refresher".

Besides, I really dig this post. And I don't think many people who have not been reading MetaFilter "from day one" would think of searching the MetaFilter archives for this subject if they were interested in READING about it. It simply would not have occurred to me before that many Mefites are interested in "Art History"; I'd probably have pointed Google at university sites instead.

So I also thank you, buriednexttoyou, for a damn good post.

On preview: keswick, if you're going to snark, at least do the legwork.

Note to languagehat: /me ::ROLLS EYES:: .

On preview, 'Agreed' to what bugbread just said.
posted by davy at 4:12 PM on December 27, 2004


Kids, don't make me come down there.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:19 PM on December 27, 2004


Dude. You do know you're married to Ross Perot don't you?
posted by darkmatter at 4:25 PM on December 27, 2004


What davy said!
posted by semmi at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2004


Interesting how years later (approx. 1985) those of us with Amigas and Newtek's Digiview were using a similar technique. Fascinating how much work one had to do.

Interestingly enough, at least to yours truly, this site was the one and only site I've ever felt I might make an FPP about. With that in mind I discovered that it had been done before so I didn't bother. Perhaps if that bloke with the righteousness of Seth and the varacity of 111 was around then. Perhaps...

Of course friendly call outs to double posts are done with frequency and are usually welcome. languagehat is is no way pedantic davy. I suppose you've never seen friendly reminders like that in comments before. First time for everything.
posted by juiceCake at 4:39 PM on December 27, 2004


Well I missed it first time around, but I'm very, very pleased for the double post. Stunning pictures, a great example of what the web does well. Thanks for the find buriednexttoyou (though I think you should watch people who write songs about dead people).
posted by ciderwoman at 4:49 PM on December 27, 2004


Davy, you really are a fuckwit.

Great post, though, buriednexttoyou, double or no.
posted by ZippityBuddha at 4:49 PM on December 27, 2004


Davy is right on the money. By Zippity's measure, I guess there's not nearly enough fuckwits on MeFi. God, that's an opening big enough to drive a truck through, no?
posted by mstefan at 4:59 PM on December 27, 2004


davy, your incomplete sentences and spastic formatting have me confused, but garnering the gist of your ramblings, you have severely misjudged languagehat.

I had also missed this link the first few times around, but does anyone search the fucking archives before posting anymore?
posted by naxosaxur at 5:00 PM on December 27, 2004


> those of us with Amigas

Prokudin-Gorskii: The great-grandfather of bitplaning?
posted by Wolfdog at 5:02 PM on December 27, 2004


hay guys did u hear about this??!?111!1

ROFL!!1!11!
posted by keswick at 5:03 PM on December 27, 2004


Gawd, when am I gonna learn not to read the MeFi comments after I've been particularly blown away by something in a post. Thank you, PostingPolice and other irrelevant followups, for the spoilsport party.

buried, I hadn't seen this amazing stuff before. It combines several of my great interests, including historical photography and Russia.

But there's something jarring about looking at these pictures. My brain tells me the images should be B &W, and can't quite accept they're not yesterday's snapshots. While looking at old photos it's often eerie to me to think how all those people who look so alive are really long gone from life. Seeing these in color makes that feeling even greater.

Just beautiful images. (Oh, and it motivated me to look around the LOC site a bit. Man, some good exhibitions currently on view too.)
posted by NorthernLite at 5:36 PM on December 27, 2004


Yeah, double-post notwithstanding, great post!
posted by effwerd at 5:53 PM on December 27, 2004


davy, your incomplete sentences and spastic formatting have me confused, but garnering the gist of your ramblings,

Now see, that intrigues me: I think I strain really hard to be intelligible, and then I see things about "incomplete sentences" and "spelling and syntax." (Syntax maybe, but spelling? Me?) If you're interested in telling me what you're talking about and in a helpful spirit helping me make my writing even more intelligible, start a thread in MetaTalk.

>you have severely misjudged languagehat.

Tit for tat. "He started it!"

Besides, remember the catchphrase sometimes found in the logo: "You're wrong!" "No, you're wrong!" And I think I dimly recall something from some GeroFite's "guidelines" about one should expect everyone to be always wrong. Why should languagehat and me be exceptions?

Still, in case it'd help:

/me ::HUGS:: languagehat and offers a {{big kiss}} to make it all better.
posted by davy at 5:59 PM on December 27, 2004


"but does anyone search the fucking archives before posting anymore?"

just a point, and not aimed at anyone in this thread, but the search function is fallible. I've double posted twice this year, and both times I've searched with a variety of keywords before posting and come up with nothing. It happens, but I hope we don't reach the day when people are scared to post just in case it's been done before. I'd rather ignore a double post than miss something like this.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:22 PM on December 27, 2004


Can we stop with the irc-speak?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:22 PM on December 27, 2004


"My brain tells me the images should be B &W, and can't quite accept they're not yesterday's snapshots."

I had the exact same problem, NorthernLite. In B&W, they're stunning photos, but there's something that just feels...off...when seeing them in color. Doesn't make them any less stunning, of course, and they're very beautiful (especially this one), but it's still a curious effect.
posted by abiku at 6:31 PM on December 27, 2004


Davy, you need to let it go. Not every extraneous, inappropriate snark requires rebuttal.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:33 PM on December 27, 2004


I remember thinking this the last time around, although I couldn't post yet: Sites like this remind me that people could see in colors more than fifty years ago. When I see something in color that "should" be in black & white, it makes the historical world seem so much more tangible.
posted by Doohickie at 6:39 PM on December 27, 2004


To everyone who thinks there's something wrong with mentioning a double post: double posts are not allowed around here. It's customary to mention the fact when a post turns out to be a double; this can be done relatively pleasantly (as I did here) or snarkily (as keswick did), but it's going to be done, so you might as well get used to it. It's just childish to whine "But I didn't see it!" This is not your personal site, it's a community site, and these are the rules, like it or not. The poster understands this; why don't you?

And as naxosaxur points out, there are a fuck of a lot of double posts these days, and it's not all due to the fallible search function. We all had to learn how to do it right; you should be observing and learning, not bitching and moaning.
posted by languagehat at 6:39 PM on December 27, 2004


Can we stop with the irc-speak?

I blame the influx of MoFites.
posted by keswick at 6:56 PM on December 27, 2004


Tit for tat. "He started it!"

Shees! Who let the five year olds in?
posted by caddis at 7:03 PM on December 27, 2004


>>/me ::HUGS:: languagehat and offers a {{big kiss}} to make it all better.

No further discussion is necessary when dealing with people who speak like 12-year old girls hanging out in the local strip-mall.
posted by naxosaxur at 7:12 PM on December 27, 2004


Metatalked bitches. Tough love.
posted by naxosaxur at 7:45 PM on December 27, 2004


Fer chrissake, it's been 3.5 YEARS. Anything over a couple years is OKAY to repost, particularly when it's extremely cool.

Just because you happened to be around three years ago and saw a headline is absolutely no reason that it should NEVER AGAIN be posted here. I'm sure as heck not going to be reading through the archives unless I'm looking for a very specific thing, and it's not bloody likely that I'd have thought to search for early Russian color photography.

Complaining about dupes this old is elitism, pure and simple. "Look, look how far back *I* can remember! I'm obviously BETTER than you newbies. Go away, you're not wanted here."

buried, AFAIK, anything over two years old is fair game, if it's something of this caliber.
posted by Malor at 12:49 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


You are being too sensitive Malor. It is not just new members who are double posting with abandon. If you have posted here for any length of time you have probably double posted. So if you get called out on it don't be surprised, or angry, or defensive (actually buriednexttoyou was quite the gentleman over this, not so some others).

If I can find it in the archives I don't want to see it on the front page again unless something is added or the link has been updated in some significant way. Old is still old. When MeFi hits a slow spot the archives can serve-up some interesting stuff you may have forgotten.
posted by caddis at 6:01 AM on December 28, 2004


Why do so many people photographed have medals? What does that mean?
posted by exhilaration at 8:59 AM on December 28, 2004


I've enjoyed these the past million times they've been posted, and also in the book "Photographs for the Tsar," published in the 1980s, in which they made their first modern appearance. (You should buy it if you want hard copies to enjoy in your easy chair.)

But here's what makes me sorry: Prokudin-Gorskii mainly took pictures of people and things that seemed unusual and exotic -- which, for a bourgeois of his era, were the timeless cities of the outlying provinces and their colorfully garbed natives. What I want with a passionate longing, are color pictures of the rooms and clothes and faces and cities of the ordinary people of Prokudin-Gorskii's class. I want color pictures of the scenes and characters out of Chekov and Tolstoy -- not some bozo in a turban. A turban then is a turban now.
posted by Faze at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2004


If you have posted here for any length of time you have probably double posted.

Amen. I've done it myself. And when it was pointed out, I was embarrassed but grateful. Having a DP called out is not a personal attack; it's a public service. And if you happen not to have seen the link before, be grateful you got the chance before the DP got deleted, but don't bitch and moan about the callout. The world is full of many wonderful things, and so is MeFi; if you're eager to see them, browse the archives.

What I want with a passionate longing, are color pictures of the rooms and clothes and faces and cities of the ordinary people of Prokudin-Gorskii's class.

Yeah, that would be great, though I'm glad for the turbans as well.
posted by languagehat at 10:18 AM on December 28, 2004


Not every extraneous, inappropriate snark requires rebuttal.

Of course not, CD. Not even all those directed at me. But still, it's kinda like naxohat gets with doubleposts: if you let 'em think they can get away with it they'll run totally wild. So I figure if I pop off at the few that catch my eye it'll keep 'em dancing, kinda like cops with speeders.

That's one lesson I've re-learned from my brief experience with this MetaCommunity: if we don't teach evildoers to be Kind and Considerate just like US by stomping them every chance we get, preferably en masse, before you know it they start acting like they're not afraid of us -- and then where would we be? It's a powerful feeling to convince yourself you're better than somebody else (or even to appear to do so in public so the In Crowd will accept you); and that feeling is enhanced, rather than diluted as one might expect, by being shared with the biggest fraction around. But they're not going to kowtow to us just because we're so Nice, are they?

It also helps to have an Authority to appeal to and Rules to cite, so nobody can accuse you of putting your own judgment above "the common run". It's so much safer to just follow along. And anyway, thinking for yourself is often too much trouble even when there is no risk in doing so.

But I'm digressing again, aren't I.
posted by davy at 10:35 AM on December 28, 2004


"But I'm digressing again, aren't I."

::passes davy a '?' to place at the end of that sentence, then runs away to hide behind naxohat...::
posted by apocalypse miaow at 11:03 AM on December 28, 2004


Beautiful pictures...just beautiful.
posted by Sharktattoo at 11:51 AM on December 28, 2004


More like early 1990s! zinger!
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:28 PM on December 28, 2004


Those are rad. Thanks!
posted by squirrel at 7:12 PM on December 28, 2004


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