These rare color photos by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii document the Russian empire between 1909 and 1915. With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled throughout the Russian empire in a specially outfitted train car conducting a photographic survey, according to the Library of Congress, which owns the original slides.
Using a special technique that captured three black and white photographs in succession, the pictures could then be combined using red, green and blue filters to create realistic color. The result is vivid photographs that look startlingly modern.
The world that Prokudin-Gorskii carefully documented was soon to be destroyed by the Russian revolution, and he would leave Russia himself in 1918 for France. However, these amazing photographs remain as a vivid reminder of Russia's diverse peoples and rich history.