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May 6, 2024

The Earliest Color Photos of Finland Taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky in 1903

More than half a century before color photography established itself, a Russian photographer and scientist, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, took incredibly accurate color photos using a method of three different color plates. Prokudin-Gorsky studied science and art in St Petersburg at the end on the 19th century. He became interested in photography and was accepted as a member at the Photographic Section of the Imperial Russian Technical Society in 1898. In 1902 Prokudin-Gorsky moved to Berlin to work at the Higher Technical School in Charlottenburg. Here he met professor Adolf Miethe, that had developed a camera that could take color photos.

Which gets us to early fall in 1903 (exact date is not known) when Prokudin-Gorksy takes some of his first astounding color photos along the shores of Lake Saimaa and the Saimaa Canal. These pictures must have been part of the first showings that Prokudin-Gorksy arranged in 1905 in Moscow and St Petersburg. So Finland and the Finnish lake district are in fact the first parts of the world that have been artfully photographed in color.

Here are some of the stunning photos taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. It is very difficult to believe that these photos are over 100 years old. They look like they would have been taken just recently.

View from Punkaharju on Lake Saimaa, 1903.

View from Lake Saimaa, 1903

View from Lake Saimaa, 1903

View from Lake Saimaa, 1903.

View from Lake Saimaa, 1903

View of the Mälkiä locks from the Saimaa Canal near Lauritsala, 1903

View from the Saimaa Canal near Lauritsala, 1903


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