In todays Episode I have one story about the last photographs taken before some people met with their fate and also a story on the Wildflower Super Bloom in Death Valley.

You can find the show notes here.

Show Notes

Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 397 for Thursday April 4th, 2024. In today’s episode, Final Photos Captured Before Tragedy and a Wildflower Super Bloom in Death Valley.

In the final moments before tragedy struck, these were the last photos that were taken. Tragedy often strikes when least expected, and sometimes only a single poignant photograph captured the final moment before a person’s (or persons’) life — unbeknownst to them — was changed forever.

These images capture the very last moments before disaster. Some of these photographs are well-known, while some of these pictures have rarely been shared. But all of these photographs have a sad tale.

Deadly Bear Attack


A hiker took this photo of a giant black bear on his cell phone moments before it chased and mauled him to death.

Darsh Patel was hiking with four friends in New Jersey in 2014 and used his cell phone to take this picture of the bear in the woods — before it killed him.

The phone was later found in the woods, with a bike mark through it.

Patel’s final photo shows the 300lb bear moving towards fatally mauling him — in what police said was a rare attack.

Final Photo Before Car Bomb

This photograph was taken shortly before the Omagh car bombing in the town of Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland on 15 August 1998.

In the image, a man and child, who were visiting from Spain, unwittingly took a photo right next to the red Vauxhall Cavalier car that contained the bomb.

The bombing killed 29 people and injured about 220 others, making it the deadliest incident of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The camera with the photograph was found in the rubble after the explosion.

The man and child in the picture both survived the bombing. However, the photographer sadly did not survive the explosion.

The Last Known Photo of the Titanic

This image is believed to be the last known photograph of the RMS Titanic on her doomed maiden voyage.

The photo was taken on 11 April 1912, just after Titanic departed Queenstown with an estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard as the vessel embarked on her final journey.

About 1,500 people died on the Titanic after it collided with an iceberg and sank — making it the deadliest sinking of a single ship up to that time.

Photographer Unknowingly Captures Last Moments of Titan Submarine

The Titanic continues to capture people’s imagination over a century later. On June 16, 2023, five passengers began their deep-dive expedition to visit the Titanic wreckage aboard Titan, a tourist submersible operated by OceanGate Inc. — paying $250,000 each for the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

However, the tourist submersible imploded on the deep dive to the wreckage, killing all five passengers.

While, not strictly a still image, videographer and photographer Abbi Jackson unknowingly captured the last moments before the Titan began its doomed voyage in selfie footage posted to TikTok.

The Last Known Photo of the Last Tsesarevich of Russia Before His Murder

This was the final known photo taken of 13-year-old Alexei Nikolaevich, the last Tsesarevich (heir apparent to the throne of the Russian Empire) before he was murdered along with the rest of the Russian Imperial Romanov family.

The image shows Alexei and his sister Olga aboard the steamship Rus that took them to Yekaterinburg in the Russian Soviet Republic in May 1918 where they would be imprisoned.

Three months later, on June 17, 1918, Alexei and Olga were both killed by Bolshevik secret police in a cellar room with their parents and three other siblings.

The Last Known Photo Before Doomed MH17 Flight

Dave Hally took this last photo of his wife Kim and their four-year-old daughter before they took off for their dream vacation aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17).

Shortly afterward, the passenger airliner crashed and burned in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 — killing 298 people on board including the Hally family.

The Final Selfie Adventurer Christopher McCandless Took

In April 1992, American adventurer Christopher McCandless hiked into the Alaska wilderness with little food and equipment and spent the summer living in a bus.

McCandless — whose life was immortalized in the 2007 film Into The Wild — was found dead inside the bus almost four months later in August.

A camera with undeveloped film was found next to MCandless’ remains after his death. On the roll of film was a final photo that he had taken of himself with a note in his hand.

The note reads: “I have had a happy life and thank the lord. Goodbye and may God bless all!”

A Man Captures His Killer Aiming Gun at Him

This is the chilling moment a politician inadvertently photographed his assassin in a family portrait — seconds before he pulled the trigger.

Reynaldo Dagsa, a councilor in Manila in the Philippines, was killed in front of his family moments after he pressed the shutter while taking the New Year’s Day portrait.

As his daughter, wife, and mother-in-law stand smiling outside their home, the killer Michael Gonzales can be seen taking aim at Dagsa behind the group.

Dagsa was a law-enforcing councillor who had previously helped get his assassin Gonzales jailed for car theft.

A Man Waits to Be Saved

This daguerreotype image, taken in July 1853, shows Joseph Avery, the sole survivor of a boat crash, clinging onto a log in the Niagara River in New York waiting to be saved.

Shortly before, Avery and two other men boating in the Niagara River were overwhelmed by the river’s strong current, lost control of their boat, and crashed into a rock. The current carried two men immediately over the Falls to their deaths.

However, Avery survived and clung onto a log jammed between two rocks as he waited to be saved. Avery remained this way for 18 hours.

When the rescue boat came, it capsized just as he boarded it, ultimately ending Avery’s life. The image not only captures the final moments before Avery’s life but is an early example of a news photograph

A Photo Taken Five Minutes Before an Assassination That Led to a World War

This image was taken five minutes before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His assassination was the most immediate cause of World War I.

Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were both assassinated on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The incident triggered a series of events that eventually led to Austria-Hungary’s allies and Serbia’s allies declaring war on each other four weeks after his death — starting World War I.

The Last Photo Before The Challenger Disaster

This is the last known photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew boarding the ill-fated space shuttle on January 28, 1986. Tragedy would strike 73 seconds into flight — after the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart, killing all seven crew members aboard.

The crew consisted of five NASA astronauts, one payload specialist, and a civilian school teacher.

The Last Photo Before a Horrific Plane Crash

On September 25, 1978, the Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182 collided with the Cessna 172 aircraft.

This photograph shows the Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight seconds after the collision and shortly before it crashed — tragically taking the lives of 144 people, including passengers onboard and public on the ground.

At the time, it was the deadliest air crash to occur in the U.S.

Wildflower Super Bloom in Death Valley

A photographer has captured spectacular photos of a rare wildflower super bloom covering the hottest and driest place on Earth: Death Valley in California.

Elliot McGucken tells PetaPixel that he was “amazed” at how many yellow flowers (Desert Gold) were gracing the fields of Death Valley National Park when he visited on March 19.

“When I entered into the park the flowers grew even more dense, and I spent the day enjoying their magnificent fragrance while delighting in all sorts of photographic compositions in every direction,” says McGucken.

“From the desert dunes to the sandy, rocky terrain, the photographs capture the essence of Death Valley while paying homage to the most ephemeral and rare player in the scene — the Desert Gold Wildflowers.”

The photographer says that a super bloom such as the one now is a “once-in-a-decade event” with the last one coming in 2016.

“And Death Valley is the hottest and driest place on earth,” adds McGucken. “The flowers can wither and disappear in just a couple of sunny and windy days as the temperatures climb.”

McGucken says that the wildflower super bloom is down to the increased rain Death Valley received in 2023 and 2024. EarthSky reports that Death Valley typically gets about two inches of rain per year. But in the past six months, there has been double that amount with the remnants of Hurricane Hilary delivering 2.2 inches of water in August 2023 and an atmospheric river hailed another 1.5 inches in February 2024.

At the beginning of March, PetaPixel reported on the impending super bloom in California. It’s the second year in a row that there has been a colorful bloom on the West Coast.

Death Valley National Park put out a press release saying that dense concentrations of bright wildflowers have blanketed parts of the park such as Panamint Valley. However, it said that the super bloom wasn’t expected throughout all of Death Valley.

The park service also reminded visitors to stay on designated paths and trails while urging tourists not to pick any flowers as removing them means fewer seeds and fewer future blooms to enjoy next year.


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