No matter if you love or hate or love to hate Microsoft; no one would believe you if you would say you have never seen today’s photograph! But, probably, not many of you know anything about this photo. So, today, lets talk about the default desktop wallpaper for Windows XP. What can be a more famous photograph than this? It remained in front of millions of eyes for years. Some sources claim that Bliss is the most viewed photograph in human history. Now let’s know a bit more about this poor image which has been so much looked upon but still hardly anyone thought about it.
This photograph was taken by a professional photographer named Charles O’Rear in 1996. The location that is shown in this photo is in the Sonoma County, California, southeast of Sonoma Valley near the site of the old Clover Stornetta Inc Dairy. The rolling hills appearing in this photo lie in Somona Valley which is known for winemaking and therefore grapevines are grown aplenty. However, when O’Rear took the photo there were no grapevines on the hills. The day was sunny, sky was bright blue studded with cirrus clouds and hills were lush green. Here is what O’Rear mentions about that day (a video of O’Rear discussing the photograph is given at the end):
“There’s a time of the year here in north of San Francisco; after we get the rains and during the rains, the grasses turn green and I know the chances of finding these beautiful hillsides are really good. I’m gonna be more prepared. I’m gonna be more alert. I’m going to be more focused and paying attention to what might happen. So, every Friday afternoon, I would go to visit my girlfriend near San Francisco.
On this particular day in January, while driving [on] this winding, little, what I call a country road, there it was! My God, the grass is perfect, it’s green, the sun is out, there’s some clouds! I kind of think that maybe it wasn’t as perfect as I made the photograph. It could have been no clouds; and by the time I parked, by the time I set my camera up, the clouds might have come in, because everything changed so quickly at that point. So now, I get the camera ready and here comes the clouds, and I make a frame, and I crank to the next one — which we don’t do in digital anymore, you just push the button and it takes care of everything. Here comes the clouds, I’ll take another one; and here comes another one, and here’s another one. Now I’ve made four frames; okay, fine, I think that was pretty nice.”
The original photograph was digitized to make use of it in computers and it was distributed as part of the Luna theme of Windows XP. In Windows XP it is used as a bitmap (.bmp) image. O’Rear took this image standing at 3050 Fremont Dr. (Sonoma Hwy.), Sonoma, CA. He used a hand-held view camera.
This photo mesmerized millions of computer users around the world as well as it inspired Microsoft’s Windows XP advertisement campaign “Yes, you can” worth $200 million.
Here is a YouTube video wherein Charles O’Rear is discussing this famous photograph:
Alright, now let me break the trance of serenity that this image cast upon viewers. Below is the photograph of the same location taken after ten years (i.e. in 2006). This less the spectacular image is (sarcastically) called “After Microsoft” and was taken by Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby.
If you want to visit the location to see the location for yourself, you can see the Google Street View of this location.
I hope this article has given you the many interesting facts about a photo that you probably saw hundreds of times but never knew much about it.
What do you think of this photograph and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring stories on more iconic photographs for you.