Color Photos of Old Russia the Awesomest Thing You’ll See All Day

By Drew Magary
|  Friday, Oct 23, 2009  |  Updated 8:03 AM PDT
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Color Photos From 1900s Russia

Library of Congress

The Monastery of St. Nil' on Stolobnyi Island was closed by the Soviet regime in 1927, and the structure was used for various secular purposes, including a concentration camp and orphanage.

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The Internet is designed specifically so that, every day, you stumble upon something that will delight and amuse you. Often, this means something that is A) Funny, B) Stupid, and C) Utterly Disposable. Pictures of cats juggling mice. A list of the 10 grisliest film deaths of all time. Things like that.

But sometimes, the internet leads you to something that is unfathomably cool for reasons that go a bit deeper. 

A photography blog called CAPTURED published this photography retrospective from Russian chemist and photographer, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. And Sergei blew up on Digg this week. These are color photos taken in Russia at various points spanning 1909 to 1915, and they are just about the coolest things you’ll ever get to stare at online for minutes at a time.

What the color does here is make a world that existed a century ago feel a hundred times more tangible. You feel like you hopped in a souped-up DeLorean going 88mph and touched down in Russia right before World War I. You can reach out and touch the subjects. Y

ou could knock right on their door. You see cracks in the walls, and flecks of dust, and lush vegetation. It’s a part of the world that, despite being a century old and half a world away, becomes more familiar by the second when viewed in color. You could have lived in this place. You could have lived in this time. This is what you would have seen if fate had chosen this time and place as the setting for your life.

According to the Post:

The photographs… show Russia on the eve of World War I and the coming of the revolution… (Prokudin-Gorskii) traveled in a special train car transformed into a dark room to process his special process of creating color images, a technology that was in its infancy in the early 1900’s.

So what you’re looking at here are some of the first ever real color photographs ever produced by man.

There’s a lot to be said for the artistic properties of black-and-white photography. But often, staring at old timey black-and-white photos from this era feels like staring at a world that couldn’t possibly exist. You feel like you’re staring at a movie prop, and not an actual artifact of human existence. They may as well be cartoons.

But these color photos… wow. We've posted photos here, and The Library of Congress has a full gallery posted online. I suggest you check it out, then do a shot of vodka in remembrance.

Drew Magary is the author of “Men With Balls: The Professional Athlete’s Handbook” and a columnist for Deadspin.com.

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