10 of the Most Influential Photographs That Changed Our World

10 of the Most Influential Photographs That Changed Our World

Since the invention of the first camera, mankind has had the ability to record moments to last forever. These photographs are not just random images. They captured the world’s attention and changed history in ways we can still feel today. Millions of images are taken everyday worldwide but these images are bound to stand out. Some of the images are important to us because they show just how far we have come since they were captured. Without further ado, here are 10 photographs from history that changed our world forever.

1. Nagasaki, 20 minutes after the atomic bomb was dropped, 1945.

Nagasaki - 20 minutes after he atomic bomb was dropped, 1945, photographs, photo, image, camera, photography, influential, images, fact, facts, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, atom bomb
Image credits: Hiromichi Matsuda/Public Domain

On August 6, 1945, during World War II, an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. 90 percent of the city was wiped out from the explosion, killing more than 80,000 people. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb, codenamed “Fat Man” , on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. The image above was captured by Hiromichi Matsuda, which shows the devastative power of the cruelest bomb ever created, 20 minutes after it detonated.

2. Blue sunset on Mars, 2005.

The Sun Setting On Mars 2005
Image credits: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell

Believe it or not, this sunset was not captured from our planet. NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars on May 19, 2005. The Mars Rover Spirit was deployed to better understand the Martian atmosphere and this particular photograph was captured around 6:07 in the evening of the rover’s 489th Martian day. According to NASA:

“Sunset and twilight images are occasionally acquired by the science team to determine how high into the atmosphere the Martian dust extends, and to look for dust or ice clouds. Other images have shown that the twilight glow remains visible, but increasingly fainter, for up to two hours before sunrise or after sunset. The long Martian twilight (compared to Earth’s) is caused by sunlight scattered around to the night side of the planet by abundant high altitude dust. Similar long twilights or extra-colorful sunrises and sunsets sometimes occur on Earth when tiny dust grains that are erupted from powerful volcanoes scatter light high in the atmosphere.”

3. Tenzing Norgay after reaching Everest’s summit, 1953.

Tenzing Norgay after reaching Everest’s summit, 1953.
Image credits: Edmund Hillary/Royal Geographic Society

Humans have been trying to conquer Everest since 1921. First attempted by the British, Everest had repulsed at least ten major expeditions and two solo attempts before being conquered in 1953. With sheer determination and willpower, Tenzing Norgay and his New Zealander companion Edmund Hillary became the first individuals known to reach the summit of Everest. They achieved the feat on May 29, 1953, a mere three days before Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. In fact, Queen Elizabeth didn’t learn of the achievement until the morning of her coronation.

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary spent roughly 30 minutes on the summit before beginning their descent. The duo took pictures from the summit, in order to prove their accomplishment to the world. The above image shows Tenzing Norgay standing atop the Everest’s summit with his ice axe, which was captured by Sir Edmund Hillary.

4. Earthrise, NASA, 1968.

Earthrise, NASA, 1968
Image credits: NASA

On December 24, 1968, exactly 75 hours, 48 minutes and 41 seconds after the Apollo 8 spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral en route to becoming the first manned mission to orbit the moon, humanity got a glimpse into the beauty, fragility and loneliness of our world. Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. The astronauts held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft.

“The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” – They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.

5. Eagle Nebula, NASA, 1995.

Pillars Of Creation, Nasa, space, universe, stars
Image credits: NASA

Hubble is the world’s first large, space-based optical telescope named after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble. The Hubble Space Telescope almost didn’t make it since the idea of building a telescope with optical capabilities and pointing accuracy would cost millions. Not only was it over-budget, the telescope was years behind schedule, and when it finally reached orbit in 1990 aboard the space shuttle ­Atlantis, its 8-foot mirror was distorted as a result of a manufacturing flaw. It wasn’t until 1993 when a crew was deployed to repair and bring Hubble online.

Finally, on April 1, 1995, the telescope delivered the goods, capturing an image of the universe so clear and deep that it has come to be known as Pillars of Creation. Hubble photographed is the Eagle Nebula, a star-forming patch of space 6,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Serpens Cauda. The pillars are 5 light-years, or 30 trillion miles long.

6. Jewish Boy Surrenders In Warsaw, 1943.

Jewish Boy surrenders to German troops
Image credits: United States Holocaust Museum

Beginning in July 1942, the German occupiers started shipping some 5,000 Warsaw inhabitants a day to concentration camps. A terrified young boy can be seen with his hands raised. He was one of nearly half a million Jews packed into the Warsaw ghetto; a neighborhood transformed into a walled compound of grinding starvation and death. Although the ghetto’s residents formed a resistance group, the sparsely armed partisans were eventually subdued by German tanks and flame­throwers. These pictures reveal the power of photography as a documentary tool.

7. View from the window at Le Gras, 1826.

View From The Window At Le Gras, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, 1826
Image credits: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

In the 1820’s, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce developed a fascination with the printing method of lithography; in which images drawn on stone could be reproduced using oil-based ink. He desired to reproduce the method of lithography to produce images; eventually creating a device known as camera obscura which captured and projected scenes illuminated by sunlight. Niépce focused his new invention on the view outside his studio window in eastern France. The image was cast on a treated pewter plate that, after many hours, retained a crude copy of the buildings and rooftops outside. The result, which can be seen above, is the first known permanent photograph in the world. Niépce’s achievement laid the groundwork for the development of photography.

8. The Hand Of Mrs. Wilhelm Röntgen, 1895.

The Hand Of Mrs. Wilhelm Röntgen, 1895
Image credits: Wilhelm Röntgen

It’s unclear how many pictures were taken of Anna Bertha Röntgen and how many were lost throughout the years but this photograph is the first medical x-ray, captured in 1895. Wilhelm Röntgen took the x-ray images of the bones in his wife’s hand. While working in his lab, Wilhelm noticed that a cathode tube that emitted different frequencies of electromagnetic energy, appeared to penetrate solid objects and exposed sheets of photographic paper. Wilhelm experimented with the rays until he figured out that it could be used to create shadowy images of the inside of various inanimate objects; eventually winning him the first Nobel Prize ever granted for physics in 1901. His invention was a huge success and was widely used around the world but Anna however, wasn’t pleased with it. “I have seen my death,” she said when she first glimpsed it.

9. First Cell-Phone Picture, 1997.

Philippe Kahn, first cellphone picture
Image credits: Philippe Kahn/Wiki

One man’s anticipation and boredom forever altered how we communicate, perceive and experience the world. It also laid the groundwork for smartphones and photo-sharing applications like Instagram and Snapchat. In 1997, Philippe Kahn was waiting in the maternity ward with nothing to do. His wife shooed him away, so Kahn was left to sit and do what he did best; invent things. Kahn thought of a device that could send real-time images of his daughter to his friends and family members.

The setup was simple; a digital camera connected to his flip-top cell phone which communicated together using lines of codes that he wrote on his laptop while in the hospital. When his daughter was born, Kahn took the image and transmitted it to more than 2,000 people, changing the world forever. In 2000, Sharp used his technology to release the first commercially available integrated camera phone.

10. Footprint on the Moon, 1969.

Footprint on the Moon, 1969
Image credits: Buzz Aldrin/NASA

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 was the spacecraft that landed humans on the Moon. Apollo 11 had three crew members, Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to have ever stepped on the lunar surface.

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong and Aldrin walked around for three hours while Collins stayed in orbit around the moon. They did experiments, took pictures, picked up bits of moon dirt/rocks, planted a U.S. flag and left a sign on the moon. All three astronauts came back to Earth safely on July 24, 1969.

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