This is interesting, on the BBC website:

In pictures: Russian Empire in colour photos

The first picture is captioned:
This vivid colour photograph is 100 years old, a self-portrait by the Russian aristocrat Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, using a unique photographic technique he developed himself. Prokudin-Gorskii studied chemistry under Mendeleev, the inventor of the periodic table, before travelling to Berlin to study photochemistry.
His Wikipedia biography (from which the picture above is taken) gives many more interesting details.