These pictures made photographic history

From a close-up of a spider to the first underwater color photos, these pioneering pictures capture the spirit of exploration.

There’s nothing like a photo of a “first.”

A first can be a discovery, like the first trip to the North Pole. It can be a technological advancement, like the first successful aerial color photograph. Or, it can be a combination of both—like the highest vertical photo for its time, captured from the first helium balloon to reach the stratosphere.

Here, from our archives, are those and other pioneering photos.