In 1909 and 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled extensively in the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural landscapes. His visit to the northern Urals (apparently in 1912) included the remote settlement of Nyrob, located 40 kilometers north of the regional center of Cherdyn. Judging from its position in the contact albums of the photographer, this view of a farmstead was likely taken on the road back to Cherdyn. The title for the photograph is simply “kedry,” a word usually translated as “cedars.” However, in the Urals and Siberia the term refers to the Siberian pine, Pinus sibirica, whose seeds, or pine nuts, are highly valued as a nutritious delicacy. In this image, clusters of ancient pine trees are seen standing beyond a fence. Although the Siberian pine grows slowly, the trees are very sturdy in severe winter conditions. The plot along the road here is enclosed by a tidy wooden pole fence used to contain livestock. The road is dry and hard in the early summer sun. The grassy slope seen in the background includes fenced pasture as well as the pointed forms of spruce trees mixed with fir and pine trees. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

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Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 28, 2016