Young Eagle. Golodnaia Steppe


Located to the southeast of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, Golodnaia Steppe is composed of the loess variety of soil suitable for growing grass and small shrubs in semi-arid conditions. The region, some 10,000 square kilometers in size, has a harsh continental climate: cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. Shown here is a young eagle with talons firmly anchored in closely cropped grass, perhaps where sheep have grazed. In the background (blurred because of the focus on the eagle in the foreground) are clumps of poplars and plane trees, indicating a nearby water source. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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. In 1911 he made two trips to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed Islamic architecture as well as Russian development of the area. Among the Russian development projects in Turkestan was the diversion of water from the Syr-Darya River to create a productive area for raising cotton and wheat in the Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”).

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Молодой орел. Голодная степь

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

Last updated: September 30, 2016