Writings and Experiments
My Other Web Site
Casio Wrist Camera Photos
The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated
contains a remarkable set of images from 1909-1912, and 1915 Czarist
Russia. They are black and white images containing full color information.
The images are organized in groups of three similar black and white
photographs, made simultaneously (or nearly so) through red, green, and blue
filters. The original plan for these images was that they be projected
through a similar set of filters, and recombined into a color images.
Through a miracle of modern technology, the computer display on which
you are reading this web page is made up of many tiny red, green, and blue dots,
ideally suited to displaying these images. With an image manipulation
program, such as Photoshop, you can recombine these images to get the original
color back. In doing this, you may play the role of
The general procedure of how to digitally combine the images is
documented on the exhibition web site itself.
However, they make it sound like something only a photographic Tom Swift could
do. In fact, it's pretty simple if you have the right software.
Here's how you do it with PhotoShop, or a similar photo editing
First, go to the web site, and
chase down any images consisting of group of three images looking
something like this. This is your starting point.
Warning, Will Robinson: Do look and make sure
there is not
already a color version of your image on display!
(see original, full size image)
Note: the top image is always blue, and
the bottom image is red. This is easy to see in this image, because
the blue sky will be lightest in blue, and darkest in red.
Now, use PhotoShop's rectangular select tool to
the top (blue) image, plus an extra pixel or two margin.
Create a new RGB document, and paste your image into
You may do this using menu commands, but a quick way to do this
is to type ctrl-N, select RGB, and then type ctrl-V.
This will give you a gray image containing the information for
the blue "channel" only. We will call this image your final
Now go back to your original group of three images,
click on the rectangular selection tool, and drag the selection
area down to include the middle image.
Copy the middle image
Note: it is important to drag your original selection, so that
the rectangular area defined by the marching ants stays the same size.
Note: Copy the middle image,
if you haven't already!
Click on your final color image, and type ctrl-2 to
activate only the green channel, and ctrl-V to paste the image you just
copied into the green channel.
Don't worry if things look a little sloppy right now, we'll fix
the alignment later.
Repeat what we just did, only with the bottom
image. Type ctrl-1 before pasting to modify the red channel.
If you see the sky changing to orange, you are pasting into the
OK, now it's time to align the images more
Start by using the magnifying glass to zoom in on part of the
picture, as on the right. Pick a section with well-defined edges,
such as part of the hayrack.
Use the Window>Show Channels menu item to
make the channels palette visible, and click on the channel that stands
out as the one most out of alignment, red in this case.
Note: make sure that the channel you want to move is
highlighted, and that all four eyeballs are lit up. Click on the RGB
eyeball again if necessary.
Now click on the move tool, and use the arrow keys to
move the red channel until it is in pretty close alignment with the rest
of the image.
Note that we still have what appears to be a yellow image out of
alignment - this is the blue channel in disguise.
So, click on the blue channel, and use the arrow keys
to move it around. This produces the image on the right.
Now stand back and admire what is very close to the
As a finishing touch, we will want to use the crop
tool to trim off the ugly borders. Most people would quit
here. But, you know, there is still something a little off with this
image: it's too blue.
If you were Prokudin
and/or Gorskii, and the Czar started snuffling that the
color was a little wrong, you would have tweaked the brightness of one or
two of the projectors. Well,
we don't want our modern-day equivalent of the Czar to be unhappy,
and luckily Photoshop allows you to adjust your magic lantern projectors
by using the Image>Mode>Color Balance.
So play with the sliders to your heart's content,
until you have something that looks a little better.
Color balance actually lets you adjust the "magic
lanterns" separately for the shadows, midtones, and highlights,
OK, this looks a little better.
Turns out , we can do even better than this, using the full gamut of
curves and other color controls offered by PhotoShop, but that is for