When it comes to past ages, we live in a dog’s world, that is, black and white. We are so accustomed to seeing everything that way, outside of the movies, that it is a shock to come across images from before the 1950s that are in living, vivid color. Outside of the studio, it was very uncommon to take color photographs, although the technologies for it existed even before 1900.The strip of images at the top is of an emir in the Russian Empire, c. 1911. Will the real emir please step forward? That one third from the left seems just too vivid to be real? Fourth from the left? More like what we’re used to.
Here’s a snap of some Russian peasant girls outside their cabin, somewhere in the vast territory of the Tsar. The image is hard to believe – surely those are young 21st century girls in costume, posing for our camera in a period piece shot.
Oh yes, and here’s one of my favorites from another collection, this time of WWI photos in vivid color. (These were actually shot with color film, while the others were created by taking three black and white shots, each through a different color filter. They were digitally recombined, but in 1911, they would have been printed in some other way.) This one shows a soldier peering through a hole cut in a steel plate at the top of his trench. Periscopes were often used as well. Those snipers were deadly accurate!
You can view the collections yourself at these links that I found:
Color Photos of Russia, c. 1911