The world’s most viewed picture is the default wallpaper titled “Bliss” that appears on the Windows XP operating system. The peaceful hillside image that rests below blue skies and feathery white clouds is estimated to have been seen by one billion people.
According to the SF Gate Blog, the ubiquitous photo was taken by 73-year-old Charles O’Rear of some rolling hills west of the old Stornetta Dairy in Sonoma County about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Driving to meet his girlfriend back in 1998, O’Rear was struck by the serenity of the hills and snapped the picture with his large-format Mamiya RZ67 camera.
“We had a few white clouds that just happened to be drifting by. The brilliant colors, the blue skies, the white clouds, the clarity. Those factors were enough for me to stop and take a picture,” O’Rear said. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that the longtime photographer is proud of the photo although he admits that there was nothing “unique” about it. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.
“Bliss” will slowly be disappearing, however, because Microsoft is dropping tech support for the XP operating system as it introduces more advanced editions. As far as O’Rear is concerned, if there is a picture to be remembered by, “Bliss” is a good one: “This is as close to Nirvana as you’re going to get. And if that’s so, the closest thing to Nirvana on the planet is right here in Sonoma County.”