Russell Manning > Research > Automatic Recombination of Separated Color Channels

Automatic Recombination of Separated Color Channels

The color images linked to this page were created by automatically combining three separate black-and-white images, each representing one wavelength of light (red, green, or blue). The photographs were originally taken by the Russian scientist/photographer Prokudin-Gorsky at various locations in the Russian Empire circa 1905 to 1915. The black-and-white source images I used were downloaded from the Library of Congress (see the internet exhibit "The Empire That Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorsky Photographic Record Recreated").

In an article in the New York Times (Thursday, June 14, 2001, page D7) it was stated that it took from 6 to 20 hours of labor to manually combine the three separate black-and-white photos to recreate a single color image. On images of roughly 1200 x 1200 pixels (30% of the archival size) my algorithm automatically combines the channels and creates a final color image in about 30 seconds; results are given below. This automatic technique should make it feasible to recreate all 1,903 triple photos that the Library of Congress owns (click here to see small color versions of all 1,903 triple photos in the collection).

Click on a link to see the image. The automatic routine does not crop the edges of the photos, so miscellaneous artifacts are evident near the borders (these could be cropped by hand). Also, the original images contain artifacts such as scratches, deterioration, and even missing regions, leading to some aberrant colors.









Russell Manning / / last modified 06/29/01