‘Bliss,’ Window XP’s default wallpaper is undoubtedly the most famous wallpaper and it won’t be too far-fetched to say that it has been viewed by close to a billion people. As the name suggests, the image shows a blissfully relaxing vista of green rolling hills and a bluer than blue sky.
Have you ever wondered where the real image was shot? Or does the image looks too picture perfect to be real at all?
Well that’s not the case. The famous image was shot by an American photographer Charles O’Rear in Sonoma County, California.
In January 1998, O’Rear was driving from Sonoma County through Napa Valley to see his girlfriend in Marin County, San Fransisco, just as he’d done plenty of times before. However, this time the view caught his eye. After a winter shower, the hills had exploded into a green paradise and had passed to reveal a blue sky dotted by puffy white clouds. O’Rear pulled over and took his famous “Bliss” photo with his medium-format camera.
“I got out, took a couple of pictures, and kept on going,” he told PCWorld in an interview. “And the rest is history.”
He later uploaded the photo to Corbis, a platform to digitize and license your images, which was owned by Bill Gates.
In 2000, when Microsoft was about to launch Windows XP, they called O’Rear to see if they could use his picture for its new operating system. O’Rear sold all the rights for the photo to Microsoft, which he says were not digitally enhanced.
So how much did O’Rear get for taking what is considered one of the most famous photos of all time?
Well, a non-disclosure agreement prevents him from revealing the actual figure, but reportedly the sum was large enough that no one was willing to insure the negatives to be shipped. Therefore, O’Rear had to fly to Seattle and delivered them in person.
Now people come to photograph the same spot, but 19 years later ‘Bliss’ is almost unrecognizable and wears a disappointingly dreary look.
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