Stumbled across The Empire that was Russia, an exhibition of a photographic record of turn-of-the-century Russia by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. This guy was a genius who figured out a way to make colour photographs way before they were invented. He used different coloured filters – red, green and blue – to take pictures of his subjects in rapid succession, capturing each colour on a separate plate. He then used these plates along with a light projection system to display them.
These plates, which are now the property of the US Library of Congress, were used to create vivid digital images of the pictures. The original plates where scanned and digitally touched up to remove damage due to age. The resulting images open a window to the past that is unique. Looking at images from the past in colour is a strange and surreal experience. Many of the pictures can be seen online. Here are a few of the images – they change each time you refresh. Go to the LOC website for the full collection.