Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

December 9, 2005

gorskii2.jpg

This photograph was taken with a one-of-a-kind camera in the early 1900’s by a Russian named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorski. He constructed the camera himself. When I first saw these, I was absolutely amazed. As a history geek, this is the type of stuff that makes me cream my jeans. These pictures are crystal fucking clear and they’re almost 100 years old. I mean, imagine seeing WW2 like it was photographed yesterday. WW1. Everything.

That’s when I got angry. Because not everybody had one of these cameras. As far as I know, there was one of them and it was used by Sergei. Who is this Russian bastard that decided his remarkable camera wasn’t worthy of the rest of the world?

If only all photographers had one of those. We wouldn’t look at black and white photos like we do now and think about how it’s an old photo, or how it looks like it is from some foreign time on some foreign world filled with people we don’t understand. We’d think, wow, these were real people, 60 years ago, going through the same motions as us. This stuff is real. You would be hard pressed to say whether some of these Gorskii pictures were taken yesterday or in 1909, and that is nothing short of incredible. And yet, they are the only pictures of their kind in existence. A bitter-sweet gift to history, I guess.

gorskii1.jpg

Links:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/
Entire collection

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One Response to “Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii”

  1. Mark Says:

    Man that’s awesome.


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