It's been a while since we linked to Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii back in 2007. Recently the MediaCenter blog of the Denver Post helpfully strung together some of his pictures from the Library of Congress collection on a page, making them easier to look at. The oldest ones just turned 101 years old.
I particularly like the ones where a small element in the picture is out of color register because it moved between exposures, like the impatient sailor in Crew of the steamship "Sheksna." Hold still, ya jerk!
You can read a description of Sergei Mikhailovich's technique here. (And you complain about ISO 3200!)
Prokudin-Gorskii, who documented the old Imperial Russia from a rail car, left his homeland in 1918. His archive is now at the Library of Congress of the United States.
Oh, and if you like early color photography, I heartily recommend David Okuefuna's The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn's Archives of the Planet. French banker Albert Kahn's mission was no less than world peace: he felt that documentary photographs would foster international understanding and dispel hatred. His project ended when he was bankrupted by the Great Depression. The write-up calls this book "a history buff's delight," and I have to agree. It's kind of late in the game to go inserting new landmarks into the standard history of photography—the accepted outlines of which are already pretty well calcified—but Kahn and Pokudin-Gorskii belong.
(Thanks to Pete Wilkinson)