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     Sunday May 6 09:49 PM



Entitled "The Emir of Bukhara", this photograph was taken in 1911.

1911, 25 years before the development of Kodachrome. It just so happens that the Russian gentleman who took the shot used a process wherein the full colors could be accurately restored. The photographer would make black and white prints but was able to display the images in color as slides. Now you can see them as photographs.

There are about 100 images in the full exhibit, which is here:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/gorskii.html

The work shown is from 1907-1915. A lot of images, which will take quite a while to see if you're modem-bound.

Here we have fairly accurate color photos of people in Russia. In your mind's eye, those shots are supposed to be black and white. This shot is pre WWI. This shot is not how you imagine it should be. In some other shots, it's surprising even that the grass is green. The people are wearing bright colors. The buildings are freshly painted and colorful.

That's mind-boggling by itself. But think about all the other considerations.

Our view of that time in history is definitely affected by our perception of people of that time. And our perception is - no pun intended, really - colored, by the lack of anything but eye-witness reports. Or different technologies to record what that past was.

Some of the images are of common people, and these images are particularly striking. These people are newly humanized, even though they lived almost a century ago. They were more like us than we perceive, and their society more different.

And how will future societies view us? Certainly we'll be backwards in a lot of ways, we expect. A whole generation of fully-3D renderings of major events and entertainment would make our stupid 2-D movies and TV seem positively dull. Will they say we started wars because we were bored with our entertainment? (Would they be RIGHT?)



  Tuesday May 8 12:19 PM

Wow, no doubt the Russians are damn good at doing things the hard way, and willing to do it too. Three glass plates to make one photograph!

A cautionary note about the colors, though: No color photography produces a perfectly true image, and the same is true of this process. If they didn't have access to the original filters used to make the photos, they wouldn't have a prayer of getting them close to right. Even with them, it's necessarily an inexact process. The bright colors could reflect reality, or they could just be a result of some more or less arbitrary parameters chosen by the technicians.



  Tuesday May 8 06:50 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by russotto
Wow, no doubt the Russians are damn good at doing things the hard way, and willing to do it too. Three glass plates to make one photograph!


These are just fabulous, though. I am amazed even if the colors aren't 'accurate'.


  Tuesday May 8 08:37 PM

Re: 1911 color photograph

Quote:
Originally posted by Violine
These are just fabulous, though. I am amazed even if the colors aren't 'accurate'.
I met a professional photographer just back from a Hockey game. We talked about his tools - a digital camera. He showed some of his work that night and then pointed to some amazing photographs that were on the wall. I believe it is a town called Trappe on Ridge Pike.

Take a close look at the base runner charging home plate(maybe McGuire) and the catcher. Look in the eyes of that catcher who knows he is about to be clombered - the fear in his eyes that obvious. But then the photographer said look closer - no one is touching the ground.

Onward to his recent Kodak trip. After the news conference, the Pres of Kodak stepped down to talk to photographers. All used Fuji film. He asked why and was told what the photographers had been saying for years. News magazines don't want accurate color. They want pictures with the colors exaggerated. Kodak did not yet make any such film and had no future plans to make it.

Funny thing about east coast companies (ie. the near bankrupt Xerox, AT&T, etc). They can be told straight faced from the people who come from where the work gets done, and still not see the colors properly.

Interesting pictures this man portrayed.



  Tuesday May 8 09:27 PM

And that's not all. During this period of time, color photography was known, but wasn't much of a product, and certainly wasn't "consumerized". Invented, but not available.

As a result, the information and perception of many decades of time are B+W.

Today, technologies are pretty much mined for every possible consumer use. We're gonna have the internet on our cell phone, and spray cheese, and high-tech glues in our sneakers.

Technology being everywhere, it's sometimes hard to understand the impact of it. But now we see: several decades of great-grandmothers are not remembered in color, several armies of men die while bleeding blood that appears black. There is a haze over our understanding of them as a people.

The Unabomber's anti-tech ranting breaks down once technology helps us to understand ourselves and humanity and our world.



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