Tag Archives: photography

Warsaw in old photos


Continuing with the theme of historic photographs, I found some fascinating images of Warsaw from the 1860s – the oldest surviving images of the city. They were taken by Karol Beyer, the father of Polish photography, who in 1845 became the first professional photographer in Warsaw. Over the years he took a series of photographs of Warsaw and other Polish cities that today are priceless documents of those times. He also captured hundreds of portraits immortalizing the locals (and himself in several self-portraits like this one here).

A little history background: in Beyer’s time there was no such thing as Poland, politically speaking, since the partition of 1795 between Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary erased it from the map of Europe for the next 123 years. Warsaw became a part of the Russian Empire. In early 1860s, the unrest was brewing throughout the Polish territories. After a series of demonstrations in different cities, Tsar Alexander II declared martial law on October 14, 1861.

In this photo, taken shortly thereafter, Russian soldiers are camping on the square in front of the Royal Castle. If you’ve been to Warsaw, you surely recognize Zygmunt’s Column in the upper right hand corner. Read the rest of this entry


Russia you’ve never seen before


A boy at the Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand, present-day Uzbekistan, ca. 1910

I recently came across some amazing photos from a century ago in Russia that I just have to share! Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was an early pioneer of color photography, a skill he honed in his studio and laboratory in Saint Petersburg established in 1901. His most famous photo is the only color portrait of Leo Tolstoy but he’s also known for amazing images of early 20th century Russian Empire. Impressed with his work, Tsar Nicholas II sent Prokudin-Gorsky on a mission to document in color the country’s expanse and its inhabitants. He went on to create a rich collection photos – a real treasure chest of history. He emigrated in 1918 following the October Revolution and settled in Paris, where he lived until his death in 1944.

His technique involved a camera that took a series of three monochrome (black and white) pictures in quick succession, each through a different-colored filter: red, green, and blue. He then projected all three images together to obtain near true color. Read the rest of this entry