Artist of the Month: Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich Prokudin-Gorskiĭ

Posted filed underPhotography, Russia.


Each month ikono features an homage to a different artist, regardless of the expressive means chosen by the artist, and free from geographical and historical limitations. September 2012’s Artist of the Month is Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich Prokudin-Gorskiĭ (1863-1944), pioneer of color photography, whose experiments with trichrome photography in the early years of the 20th century exercised a major influence on the following developments of this media.

“Prokudin-Gorsky’s own research yielded patents for producing color film slides and for projecting color motion pictures. His process used a camera that took a series of three monochrome pictures in sequence, each through a different-colored filter. By projecting all three monochrome pictures using correctly colored light, it was possible to reconstruct the original color scene. Any stray movement within the camera’s field of view showed up in the prints as multiple “ghosted” images, since the red, green and blue images were taken of the subject at slightly different times.

The exposure time of the frames is likely to have varied, even if the developed negatives were later on similar glass plates. In a letter to Leo Tolstoy requesting a photo session, Prokudin-Gorsky described each photo as taking one to three seconds, but, when recollecting his time with Tolstoy, he described a six-second exposure on a sunny day. Blaise Agüera y Arcas estimated the exposure of a 1909 photo taken in broad daylight to have had combined exposures of over a minute, using the movement of the moon as comparison.

Though color prints of the photos were difficult to make at the time and slide show lectures consumed much of the time he used to demonstrate his work, his studio worked in publishing prints of the photos in journals, books, postcards and large photogravures. Many of the original prints from his publishing studio have survived to this day.”

From Wikipedia

- Portrait: Photographer to the Tsar – Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

Image from The Big Picture at boston.com: Russia in Color, a century ago