How did 16 photographs change the way we see the world?

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1. What's so special about a photograph?

Light carries information. But it was only when we discovered that projected light could be captured and preserved by chemicals that the world around us began to reveal some of its astonishing secrets.

Early cameras took hours to expose an image. But now technology has changed and everything from faraway planets to the interiors of bacteria can be photographed using a dizzying array of techniques.

Photography has preserved moments in time and unmasked great mysteries. Here's 16 of the best.

2. CLICKABLE: A different view

Photography has allowed us to see in ways our eyes cannot. Click below to find out how each photograph helped us see something new.

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3. A distant view

Photographs of distant galaxies have given us the ability to see into the past and glimpse the formation of our own galaxy, Sun and planet.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990 and has since produced high resolution images of space. This image is a minute fraction of the night sky where each dot is not a star, but a galaxy.

This image combines data from two telescopes. The dim background image, showing the central dust lanes of a galaxy, was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The central coloured structures were made by the high-altitude radio telescope ALMA.

The Hubble telescope uses near-infrared to see through clouds of dust and took this image of the stars and nebula beyond. This allows scientists to learn about the make-up of distant planets and stars, and observe their formation.

This infrared image shows plumes of material being ejected by a new-born star. Distant stars at various stages of their lives tell us about the past and future of our own Sun.

This image of Mars was taken in 1976 by the Viking lander. It was created digitally and beamed back to Earth.

4. Changes over time

Photographs illustrate change over time in a unique way. Photography is nearly 200 years old, so we now have an accurate record of how places have altered over time. Click through to discover how photographs taken at different times have allowed us to understand our changing world.

Glacial melt: These images were taken 132 years apart from the same place on Lyell Glacier in California, They show the gradual but distinct change in ice coverage.

Urbanisation: Photographs taken above Dubai in 2001 and 2011 show how quickly urban growth can change landscapes.

Drought: The Lake Powell reservoir in Utah, USA, shown at full capacity in 1999, and then at 42% capacity in 2015.

5. CLICKABLE: Changing perspectives

Innovations in photography have made it possible to observe the world in different ways. Click below to find out more.

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