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The uniqueness of the Bliss photograph, as well as its inclusion in the Microsoft XP default windows wallpaper, draws the viewer's attention to the image.
A popular photo and the Microsoft Windows wallpaper of a vineyard in California taken in January known as "Bliss" features a blue sky, rolling hills, and sleek green pasture. Charles O'Rear, a California-based photographer, took the photograph. The photo was taken in the middle of winter, when it was raining and the grass was just beginning to turn green. The amazing view of the sky, scattering clouds, and green grass caught Charles' attention as he continued through the California vineyard to see his girlfriend Daphne (Grubb). At the time of capturing the image, Charles elaborates there was an incoming storm. He explains that he had taken photographs of the rolling hills before but they had not appeared to have the fine color

From Man behind famous Windows XP wallpaper wishes he'd negotiated a better licensing deal. The Sydney Morning Herald. 2017 (

Charles gained interest in photographing the region after he obtained a deal with the National Geographic Magazine. In 1978, Charles took photos of Napa Valley in California that is famous for winemaking and since then continued to take images of the regions multiple times (Grubb). The Bliss wallpaper for the Microsoft is recognized more than the Mona Lisa around the globe. The wallpaper has major historical significance to the technological world and the transformation of the physical nature of the world. Despite the photo's use in the windows platform, it has its own impact and significance.

Charles posted the image to Corbis. Corbis was developed by Bill Gates due to his belief that there would be a digital platform in the future for decorating houses with art. Microsoft airlifted Charles to their headquarters so that they could obtain a better scan of the image as it seemed unreal to the workers at Corbis. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald Charles elaborates that the photograph was not manipulated and altered (Grubb). He elaborates that Microsoft made a few changes including cropping the left side and making the hillside of the photo greener. He specifies that the photograph was not photo shopped.

The grass in the photograph is deep green by the hillside and light green in the other regions. The light source of the photograph was the sun that was not shining too bright but had an impacting clear vision hence the intense clarity of the image. The blue sky can be observed, but there are a few clouds that seem to be moving in a particular direction with fast movement depicting the presence of an incoming storm. The image due to the color of the vegetation can be characterized to be taken during the rainy season.

History defines the nature and livelihood of people. The Bliss photograph is a historical image that would remain as a landmark to the Windows XP existence. The new generations wouldn’t understand the nature of its existence since most of them have not interacted with the operating system. The image alternately has major significance to the inhabitants of the region where the photograph was taken. The individuals that continuously interact with the Windows XP platform could obtain memories by seeing the wallpaper.

Photos are used to draw an audience’s response to their characteristics. The Bliss taken by Charles was incorporated to be the default Microsoft XP wallpaper that made it more significant. Charles took the photo in the middle of winter, however, the sky was clear with little clouds and an incoming storm (Anthony). Bliss showed a perfect green grass depicting a serene and admirable environment at the time. The physical nature of the vineyard has since changed and this could be attributed to mismanagement and climate change.

Windows XP underwent massive proliferation and increased piracy leading to the need for the development of a new operating system. However, individuals in continents including Australia are still using the operating system despite the development of newer ones that are more secure and efficient (Anthony). Windows XP is considered the most popular operating system until now. Charles elaborates that statistics and researchers outline that the image has been viewed by more than 1 billion people globally.

Microsoft purchased Bliss from Charles for an undisclosed fee. The company developed a non-disclosure contract that prevents Charles from issuing anyone the details of the payment. However, when asked, Charles explained that if the photograph could earn him royalty he would have earned more than the deal he made (Anthony). Technology researchers show that since the photo has been viewed by more than a billion people, at 1 % per sold copy Charles would earn approximately $10 million. He elaborates that the photo as it is was taken from a camera.


Despite the Bliss photograph being a representation and landmark for the Windows XP operating system, the image is amazing and is attractive and shows perfect work done by the photographer. Bliss shows the beauty of the land and collaborated it to the beauty and advancement in technology. The characteristics of the image are comforting and put a smile in those that view it. The importance of the beauty in the image creates a sense of responsibility and awareness for ensuring individuals take care of the environment.

Works Cited

Anthony, Sebastian. "RIP Windows XP: The Story Behind 'Bliss,' The Most Iconic Wallpaper Of All Time - Extremetech." ExtremeTech. N.p., 2014, Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.

Grubb, Ben. "Man behind Famous Windows XP Wallpaper Wishes He’d Negotiated a Better Licensing Deal." The Sydney Morning Herald. N.p., 2014, Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.

August 09, 2021

Environment Art


Nature United States

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Winter California Photography

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