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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

The Empire that was Russia

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was a color photographer before his time, who undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire for Tsar Nicholas II. He was able to capture color by taking three pictures of each scene, each with a different red, green or blue color filter. Walter Frankhauser, a photographer contracted by the Library of Congress, manually registered and cleaned up some 120 of the original high-resolution scans, with breathtakingly beautiful results. cNEv5FB00c0 x_c1fbf585 p01_00021620

Using computer-vision technology to automate the registration process, one can now for the first time view almost the entire collection of the Prokudin-Gorskii photographs in color. The color images on these pages were obtained by automatically registering these three pictures to obtain a color image of each scene. The computer program to do this was written in MATLAB by Frank Dellaert using computer-vision technology commonly used in 'mosaicking'. By clicking the links on this page you can view thumbnails of the almost 2000 images purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948, and each thumbnail is linked to a larger version of the corresponding color image.

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