Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara in full colour, image taken 1911
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
I thought you guys would be interested to see this image…
Alim Khan – Emir of Bukhara
The happy chappy is Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara.
According to the Library of Congress: “The Emir of Bukhara, Alim Khan (1880-1944), poses solemnly for his portrait, taken in 1911 shortly after his accession.
As ruler of an autonomous city-state in Islamic Central Asia, the Emir presided over the internal affairs of his emirate as absolute monarch, although since the mid-1800s Bukhara had been a vassal state of the Russian Empire. With the establishment of Soviet power in Bukhara in 1920, the Emir fled to Afghanistan where he died in 1944.”
So it’s an old photo of an emir.
Why is that interesting?
Well, this image was shot in 1911… It wasn’t until 1935 when Kodak issued the first commercially available “colour” transparency film, Kodachrome. That’s twenty four years until colour film was available.
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In fact, the image was taken with a special camera that shot three simultaneous shots using RGB coloured filters over the three lenses. After processing, the film was projected through a special projector that also filtered the light, and the viewer saw a colour image.
I downloaded the image from the US Library of Congress website and instead of projecting the image, I loaded it into Photoshop and produced the image you see. I have cropped it and retouched some scratches from the images other than that it is as Gorskii intended.
The Library of Congress says: “The Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection features color photographic surveys of the vast Russian Empire made between ca. 1905 and 1915.”
Frequent subjects among the 2,607 distinct images include people, religious architecture, historic sites, industry and agriculture, public works construction, scenes along water and railway transportation routes, and views of villages and cities.
An active photographer and scientist, (1863-1944) undertook most of his ambitious color documentary project from 1909 to 1915. The Library of Congress purchased the collection from the photographer’s sons in 1948.”
It a fascinating colour collection of the powerful and the poor, the bucolic and industry. And it documents the change sweeping the empire with images of that shows life in the Russian Empire, at the turn of the 20th century… before colour.
I hope enjoy viewing the image – Colin
Self Portrait – Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii