40 Photos That Really Put Things Into Perspective
Journalist Brooks Atkinson once said that, “The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. A fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.” A bit dramatic, but it’s hard to deny his point. The older we get, the more we seem to believe we know everything there is to know about life, the world, and everything around us. It’s certainly tempting to believe that – but it just isn’t true.
Whether it’s the animals with which we share this planet or just the human experience, the more we learn about our world the more we realize we know very little indeed. These photos are guaranteed to change your perspective on at least one thing.
#1. Turning a blind eye
Any geek worth his salt knows that Game of Thrones is based on a series of books, A Song of Ice and Fire, written infuriatingly slowly by George R. R. Martin. The books are thousands of pages each, but this photo gave us a newfound appreciation for what we have.
On the left are three books in the Song of Ice and Fire series. On the right are those same three books – in braille. Apparently, even the map of Westeros at the books’ beginning was “translated” to braille. Just imagine reading a map with your fingertips…
#2. The price of freedom
Freedom has never been free. Living in the 21st century, when war is only the problem of professional soldiers or people living far, far away, it’s easy to forget that. But the cost of freedom is, and always has been, men willing to lay down their lives.
These two photos are inconvertible proof of that. Pictured here is the same beach in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, in the Normandy region of France. Back in 1944’s D-Day, it was called Juno Beach, and was littered with tanks and airplanes. Less than 70 years later, and it’s the perfect vacation destination.
#3. Microgravity flame
Is there anything more basic and more universal than fire? Ever since man discovered the flame, 1.7 to 2 million years ago, it’s been a constant feature of our lives. Whether you’re making an omelet or lighting a fireplace, fire is still a basic human tool. But how well do we really know it?
Well, ask yourself this – in which direction does fire burn in space? The answer: in all of them. Since there’s no gravity to make the flame rise, it instead moves out in all directions. In space, fire burns blue, cooler, and dimmer.
#4. College life in one photo
You can go ahead and start looking for differences between these two chalk products, but it’s a waste of time – there aren’t any. It’s exactly the same box of 12 pieces of white chalk made by Crayola. The only difference, in fact, is where those boxes are being sold.
The box on the left is being sold for 99 cents at Target. The box on the right, meanwhile, goes for $11.98 at an undisclosed college bookstore. And doesn’t that 1,200% markup just tell you everything there is to know about American student life?
#5. Human for scale
What you’re looking at is not doctored in any way. It is, in fact, a real vehicle that’s actually pretty common in the mining industry. Allow us to introduce the Caterpillar 777 dump truck. This monster is 32 feet long, 11.5 feet wide, and just over 16 feet tall, and capable of hauling 100 tons.
Just the tires are about as tall as a small bus, as you can see from the tiny guy in front of it. Imagine cruising down the highway in that… Well, “cruising” may be an overstatement – it only does about 40 miles-per-hour…
#6. Things aren’t always what they seem
If you’re not like George Costanza – an expert marine biologist – you might think dolphins and sharks look pretty similar. Okay, so most people know sharks are fish, while dolphins are mammals, but how much difference could that make? Well, this photo tells the story better than anything. Despite sharks being bigger than dolphins, just look at the size difference in their brains.
That does explain why dolphins have been known to engage in altruistic behavior, while sharks will just straight up eat you. In fact, in one famous example, a pod of dolphins protected humans FROM sharks!
#7. Same flower, same family
This photo, simple and unassuming though it looks, is actually fascinating when you learn the backstory behind it. The pic was snapped by a parent of four children. When each of them was five, their parents had them draw the same sunflower, and the results are before you.
Interesting, how four siblings can have such different takes and flairs at the same age and drawing the same thing. We’ll do you one better, even – the two middle paintings were done by twins, a boy and a girl. So which one’s your favorite?
#8. The price of chicken
This photo looks a little gross, because – well – it is. But this uncooked chicken in front of a huge stack of money tells a larger, sadder story. It comes to us from Venezuela, which has been battling hyperinflation for years.
To put it simply and briefly, hyperinflation is the term for prices spiraling out of control while currency values plummet. Things have gotten so bad in the South American country that this five-pound chicken now costs 14,600,000 bolivars. Yes, more than 14 million. However, this astronomical sum is only worth $2.22.
#9. Freshman year is hard
While every college student is different, not to mention the differences between schools and majors, we definitely got a good chuckle out of this image. This is the same young woman, obviously, in photos taken on the first day of her freshman year in college versus the last day of that same year.
The differences are pretty telling, isn’t it? There’s the obvious difference in her mood, of course, but don’t sleep on the fact that her intricate tapestry is gone in favor of Andy Warhol-esque prints of Natty Ice. You stay classy, freshman girl.
#10. Traffic jams explained
There are some things that we just instinctively know, but can’t quite put into words until we see them right in front of us. This is one of them. Everybody probably realizes that public transportation is a more efficient way to get around.
This picture, though, tells a story that a lot more than 1,000 words ever could. What we see here is roughly the same number of people, and they could all fit on one bus. If they each traveled in their own cars, or even buddied up, though? This is why we have traffic jams.
#11. Easter Island surprise
Well, there’s no great mystery about what these are – the statues from Easter Island, located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. There are about 1,000 of them on the island, and they were carved by the local Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500 CE.
Two things are striking here. Firstly, many folks don’t realize that the moai, as they’re called, are actually full-body statues – not just heads. Secondly, look at the size of it! While it varies greatly, on average they’re about 13 feet tall. The tallest moai, however, is a whopping 33 feet and weighs 82 tons!
#12. Anyone thirsty?
Meet the Heidelberg Tun, located in the bowels of Heidelberg Castle in Germany. While the castle itself is beautiful and well worth the visit on its merits, the wine cellar is an attraction all on its own. The Tun, or vat, seen here was constructed in 1751, reportedly from 130 oak trees.
It’s currently capable of holding 57,850 gallons of wine, but is mostly used as a dancefloor – you can just about it see it on top. It’s also so famous it was featured in numerous books, like The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Les Miserables.
#13. Everyone loves chin scratches
This young lady pictured here said she never realized how huge camels are until she was standing right next to one. And let us tell you – she ain’t wrong. Alongside here is the Bactrian camel, also known as the Mongolian camel.
You can tell because it has two humps, unlike the dromedary, or Arabian camel, which only has one. The Bactrian is the largest living camel, measuring just about seven feet tall at its hump and weighing between 660 and 2,2000 pounds. Now just imagine one being mad at you…
#14. Very different Valentine’s
Sometimes, perspective is all about “There but for the grace of God go I.” This photo was snapped in a supermarket on February 14, better known to lovers as Valentine’s Day. One person bought cupcakes and a lovely bouquet of pink tulips.
The other person, meanwhile, bought 12 pieces of fried chicken and a big ol’ bottle of Jackie D. Now, it’s entirely possible that both are on their way dates, albeit very different ones, so only one question remains – which would you have preferred?
#15. Cloudy Vision
There’s already so much to focus on when you’re driving. Your mind has to be aware of so many things—your speed, the people around you, the directions, and so on.
The last thing you want to have to worry about is a huge rolling cloud cover that spans your entire vision coming closer and closer. We’re not sure what exactly this is, but it looks like a recipe for some dangerous driving.
#16. America’s symbol is huge
Every school-aged kid knows that the bald eagle is the national bird of the United States of America, and that it appears on the national seal. But how many kids, or adults for that matter, know how big the bald eagle actually is?
These images are taken from a trail cam, and showing an eagle’s brief interaction with a wolf. Apparently, it didn’t end well for the wolf… Nevertheless, the photos provide some perspective on this bird’s size. Incidentally, a bald eagle isn’t actually bald – the word used to mean “white headed,” which it definitely is.
#17. Moosing It
Living in colder areas means coming into contact with some weird creatures. Imagine driving up to your house and seeing this huge, unrecognizable creature.
Fortunately, it’s just a moose stretching out his neck. Unfortunately, moose are ginormous creatures and this one doesn’t look all that happy, nor does he look like he wants to move out of the way anytime soon.
#18. The biggest Martian mystery
We’re willing to bet you thought the Curiosity rover, which is currently puttering along somewhere on Mars, was about the size of a dog. We certainly did. There was no actual concrete reason why, to be honest.
Maybe it’s because there’s nothing on Mars to provide a frame of reference as to how big or how small it is. Nevertheless, it turns out that the rover is the size of a small SUV, and weighs 2,000 pounds. Maybe that’s why it’s been able to remain operational on Mars since touching down there in August, 2012.
#19. The future of warfare
When we think of drones, especially military ones, we usually think about hulking machines that rain down destruction from above. There certainly are some large military drones… but not all of them are. Take the pocket-sized FLIR Black Hornet, seen here.
While it’s not made for direct participation in war, it’s able to capture HD photos and video, providing valuable reconnaissance for soldiers who no longer have to risk their lives to obtain it. The Black Hornet is about the size of a cellphone and weighs 33 grams – just about the weight of a Cadbury Creme Egg.
#20. Reverse Cowgirl
You might think that your parental controls would keep you and your children from seeing images like this but don’t worry, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—we’re keeping everything innocent here.
Despite a very close resemblance to someone’s behind and a very unfortunate placement of this person’s fingers, the image you’re looking at is a horse saddle. Lasso that dirty mind. Reign in those inappropriate thoughts.
#21. It’s just DNA, okay?
We think we’re going to need some time to process this photo. See the white stuff in that test tube? Apparently, that’s DNA, about two to three million humans cells worth. It was extracted by taking a group of cells and breaking down the cell membrane and the nucleus, letting the DNA roam free.
Then, the proteins that hold DNA together were also broken down, leaving this free-floating DNA. In essence, this photo depicts pure DNA from the nuclei of about 2-3 million cells. And now you know DNA can be visible to the naked eye.
#22. First day versus last day
Some things are just meant to be, aren’t they? These two photos are of the same guy. The one on the left was taken on the first day of grade school, while the one on the right was taken on the last day of teacher’s training.
The house seems to be different, but the guy most definitely hasn’t really changed in the twenty-something years that have passed. Honestly, if we had to guess what the kid would grow up to be, it would’ve been a toss-up between teacher and Wall Street stock broker.
#23. Getting that sinking feeling
Well, we’re just going to go ahead and file this under “our worst nightmare just came true.” This photo comes to us from Turkey, where the widespread use of groundwater for irrigation of grain has created numerous sinkholes.
Some are pretty shallow while others can reach depths of 490 feet. We’re pretty sure at that depth it goes all the way to the Underworld. Now, we don’t know exactly how deep this particular one goes, but look at the humans on the left peering down. It’s enough to make us swear off of bread forever.
#24. Touching two continents
This just seems like a pretty cool photo of a guy’s diving vacation at first. The ocean is beautiful and he’s probably having the time of his life – that’s all there is to it, right? Nope. This photo’s special because the diver is technically touching both Europe and North America simultaneously.
How’s that even possible? Meet the Silfra crack. This fissure, located in Iceland, is the exact place where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates almost meet. In fact, it’s believed to be the only place in the world where two continents can be touched at once.
#25. Coming soon (?) to theaters
Calm down, no need to panic – this photo isn’t real. Or perhaps, if we wanted to be more accurate, it doesn’t depict an actual event that has occurred… yet. What you see here is Rosetta’s Comet, notable for being the first moving comet to ever have a robot land on it – a feat achieved by the European Space Agency.
So how big is the comet, whose official name is 7P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? It’s only about 1.8 miles long. Doesn’t sound like that much, right? Well, here it is compared to downtown Los Angeles.
#26. Walking across China
This is what a year spent walking almost 3,000 miles looks like. Honestly, we could wax poetic about the triumph of mind over matter, but this is what it is. Christoph Rehage, a German photographer and adventurer, spent an entire year walking across China.
He started his journey in November, 2007, in Beijing and walked until October, 2008, ending up in Ürümqi – on the other side of the country. He spent the entire journey on foot, and took a photo of himself every 20 or 30 miles. Almost seems like a different man…
#27. Khan the conqueror
While its name isn’t actually catchy, Mongolia’s Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue more than makes up for it in sheer size. The 131-foot masterpiece near the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar is one of the 100 tallest statues in the world and also houses a museum about the country’s storied past and culture.
You can see the people walking on the stairs below, but do you see the dots along the horse’s mane? Those are people too, just to give you a sense of the enormity of the thing.
#28. A giant from a land before time
While the blue whale, which still roams our oceans, is the biggest animal to have ever lived, the honor of biggest dinosaur ever belongs to the Argentinosaurus. Found in modern-day Argentina in 1987 – hence its name – the Argentinosaurus may in fact have been the largest land animal to ever walk the Earth.
Even though we only know of its existence from scattered bone fragments, scientists estimate its length ranged from 100 to 130 feet, and its weight from 50 to 100 tons. Just look at the young lady standing beside a partial – partial! – leg bone. Geez.
#29. Fly away
What you see here is only the tail of the Airbus A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world. Considered a failure commercially, the A380 can typically seat 525, even though it’s certified for up to 853 passengers.
We know airplanes are big, obviously, but since we rarely see them from anything but either the inside or high up above, the scale of them is sometimes lost. These guys and gals, then, make up the team who worked on the A380. Imagine how many of them you’d need to stack to reach its full height – we’d say about seven.
#30. That’s a whole lotta sugar
Here’s something that probably a lot of you will want to unsee after looking at it. This is a display put in a dentist’s office that shows off just how much sugar is in a bunch of common products.
It’s hard to believe that so much sugar could even fit into these things, but hey, that’s life for ya. It’s pretty disturbing to think that we regularly consume that much sugar, and it’s even more disturbing to think of the kind of damage that is being done to our teeth on the daily. Time to go call our dentist….
#31. Taking a look at the Redwoods
If you have never had a chance to visit the absolutely massive Redwoods in California, we strongly suggest you try to plan a trip to go and see them as soon as possible. These trees aren’t just big, they are mind-shatteringly big. They are bigger than you would have ever imagined that a tree could become.
These trees will literally change your perception of life and will make you feel like a lowly insect. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating a bit… but just a tiny bit. The Redwoods are incredible, and they will blow your mind.
#32. A water bottle in Shaq’s hands
We all think that we know someone who is big. Maybe you have a friend that plays basketball, or maybe you have a friend that spends a lot of time in the gym.
No matter how big they are, however, we can guarantee you that Shaq would dwarf them. Not only is the legendary former basketball pro gigantically tall, but he’s also large in almost every other way. Just look at how small a normal water bottle looks in his hands! It looks like a plaything to him. Get this guy a Shaq-sized bottle, please.
#33. Nevermind, Shaq is tiny
Okay, take back everything that we just said. Shaq actually isn’t all that big. He’s actually pretty tiny. Or at least he looks tiny compared to one person: the former tallest man on earth. The guy that Shaq is posing next to is actually a wax sculpture of Robert Wadlow, a man that lived about a century ago that was measured to be the tallest man ever.
He unfortunately died young from a faulty brace that caused an infection, but it’s insane to think that someone out there could make Shaq seem like a normal sized guy.
#34. The difference that smoking can make
There’s a reason that people advertise that items they are selling come from a non-smoking home. Smoking can actually make a really huge difference, and we aren’t only talking about health here. Just look at this photo. On the right, we have some blinds in a home of non-smokers. On the left, we have some blinds in the home of a smoker.
See a difference? Yeah, pretty yucky. To think that we do the same thing to the insides of our bodies is pretty crazy. Don’t smoke, kids! Nobody wants their lungs to look like that.
#35. The happiest day of her life
For many people, getting married is the happiest day of their life. It’s a moment where a ton of preparation comes together to make a celebration of love that you will never forget. It’s completely magical. But for this girl, it looks like her marriage actually wasn’t the happiest day of her life.
Sure, we’re guessing that she felt great, but her facial expressions tell us that she was a whole lot happier when she met superstar Rob Lowe. Hey, we don’t blame her. Rob is a serious Hollywood hunk. Save some smile for your hubby, though!
#36. Two soldiers, 70 years apart
It’s funny to think about just how much society has changed in the last few decades. It seems like human progression is growing at an exponential rate. It’s hard to say where we’ll be in 30 years, or 15 years, or even five. And that’s why it’s so fun to look back at where we came from and compare that with where we are now.
As this photo of two soldiers wearing gear that is separated by 70 years shows, even warfare has progressed an incredibly large amount. We kinda like those old school duds, though. We’d rock that outfit.
#37. Sitting below the pyramid
As one of the greatest landmarks in the world, the Great Pyramids belong to a category of sights that you really just have to see to believe. We can tell you that the Great Pyramids are big, even unfathomably large.
But you won’t really understand that sense of scale until you are there, sitting beneath them. But maybe this photo will help you out just a little bit. As this pyramid towers up into the sky, the woman sitting at its base looks absolutely miniscule. To think that humans built such a thing boggles the mind.
#38. These Things Fit Perfectly Together and It’s So Satisfying
If you can’t get enough of these photos that put things in perspective, don’t miss these things that fit perfectly together.
These photos prove that some things in life really are meant to be and that there is such things as a perfect fit.
#39. Two kinds of stingers
Everyone knows that bees have only one sting in them, but have you ever seen their stinger up close? Here we have two stingers, with the head of a pin at the top and a hypodermic needle at the bottom for comparison.
A bee’s stinger is actually made up of two barbed lancets, which rub together, digging deeper into the skin while pumping toxin from an attached venom sac. This is why it doesn’t actually matter how you get the stinger out – just do it quickly, because it’ll still be pumping venom minutes after the bee’s gone.
#40. Enough to be lethal
A quick glance at this photo might not make it obvious what you’re supposed to be looking at. Hint: it’s not the penny. Just to the right of it is a tiny bit of fine white powder. Pretty small, right? Well, that tiny amount is enough to end an adult’s life.
That powder, you see, is two milligrams of fentanyl, a substance primarily used as pain medication and for anesthesia. It is, however, also widely abused recreationally. Considering just that much is enough to be lethal makes it clear why it’s the leader in American substance abuse fatalities.