There's a thread on Quora right now that asks "What's the most epic photo ever taken," and some of the submissions are truly mind-blowing.
Of course, in the many years of photography, people have captured an innumerable amount of iconic images. But the question is specific: what's the most epic? User submissions prove that the concept of "epic" means something different to everybody. To some it means important, to others it means large scale, and to a few it simply means awesome.
Although it's virtually impossible for there to be a consensus on the most epic photo ever, this Quora thread is an amazingly fun read. I'll give you a taste by presenting the top 10 epic photos, as currently voted by users.
Want to feel small and insignificant? Here's the Earth from about 3.7 billion miles away. This image was taken and transmitted by Voyager 1 about 13 years after its initial launch. If you want scope, here you go - it's hard to get more epic than this. We're that little spec - the single pixel on the right side of the image:
User Mark Hughes says that his choice "encompasses a fundamental horror and truth about humanity today." The image was taken during the 1993 famine in Sudan. Epic? Debatable. Heart-wrenching? Wow:
Apollo 8's snapshot of Earth from the Moon. 'Nuff said:
Historical significance is paramount in this classic photo taken at Tienanmen Square. One of the most iconic images of the 20th century:
This image from the Hubble telescope is mind-warping. I'll let user Phillip Schaffer describe why it's so epic to him - "Background - as a pure act of curiosity, in 1995 the Hubble was aimed at a very small patch of sky thought to be empty. Data were added up over 10 days to make the image, and what was seen was a total surprise. The area was packed with galaxies. The size of the image below covers an area of sky the size of a dime viewed at 75 feet. Look at the number of galaxies and extrapolate that to the entire sky. Then multiply by perhaps a billion stars in each galaxy. Then make a rough estimate of the % of stars that might have intelligent life in their planetary system. I also never tire of just examining the variety of galaxies found in this picture. Every tiny smudge of light is an entire galaxy, possibly home to intelligent beings."
Another iconic image makes a play for most "epic" photo ever. This image of the immolation of a Buddhist monk won its photog, Malcolm Browne, the Pulitzer prize.
This image captures three big events: On the left, fireworks. Barely visible in the middle is Comet McNaught. And on the far right, a thunderstorm. Pretty epic.
High-fiving a whale. That is all:
This photo was taken on September 11th at the World Trade Center. The photographer, Bill Biggart, was killed shortly after taking the photo. One Quora user writes, "Epic story, not epic photo." What do you think?
Finally, number 10 in Quora users' minds is this National Geographic image of camels in the desert. It gets a little better when you realize the photo was taken from high above during a sunset and the black images are only shadows:
What do you think of the picks by Quora users? What are you favorite images ever? Let us know in the comments.[Lead Image is #12 on the Quora thread - goodbye, sound barrier!] [Major Hat Tip to Google+ Chief Architect Yonatan Zunger for his Google+ post pointing me in the direction of this thread]