Ural Owls. From the Collection of N.P. Alin in Cherdyn


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 in the summer of 1912 included a trip to the regional center of Cherdyn, located 310 kilometers north of the city of Perm. By the time this photograph was taken, Cherdyn, which was situated on the Kolva River, was a regional trade and administrative center. During his visit, the photographer viewed the large collection of stuffed animals belonging to Nikolai P. Alin, a wealthy merchant. Prokudin-Gorskii photographed a number of displays, including this view of two owls resting on pine boughs. The owl on the left has the brown-specked plumage typical of the Ural owl (Strix uralensis). The Ural owl has no “ear” tufts, and the appearance of the male and female is similar. The adult wing span is typically 115 centimeters. The discoloration of the dark background in this image reflects damage to the glass negative. The Alin collection was subsequently transferred to the Cherdyn Regional History Museum. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Уральския совы. Из коллекции Н. П. Алина в Чердыни

Type of Item

Physical Description

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