The reality of the world's most viewed image - it's Microsoft's default wallpaper for Windows XP. Titled as "Bliss" a beautiful landscape photo taken in Sonoma County California, which was a part of Windows XP’s Luna theme that came default wallpaper with the operating system.
It may not be as well known as the Mona Lisa, but Charles O’Rear’s photo, Bliss, may have been viewed as many times, if not more. It has been estimated to have been viewed by over 1 Billion people around the world since it’s been published in 2002.
While many may have assumed this image was computer generated, or some kind of composite digital manipulation; it’s indeed a real location, shot by a real photographer who stakes his professional career that it wasn’t enhanced or manipulated.
Mr O’Rear, who began his career with the Kansas City Star and the Los Angeles Times, worked for 25 years for the National Geographic and now specializes in photographing winemaking in Napa and around the world.
World's most viewed photo taken by National Geographic American photographer Charles O’Rear. The original image was shot in 1996. This photo was taken by him on a drive to Napa valley California and was purchased by Bill Gates. He sold the photograph to Microsoft for an undisclosed “extraordinary amount”. The photo became the default wall paper of Windows XP since 2002.
At the time, O’Rear was in a vineyard retreat in Napa Valley, California. This photograph was taken from the side of the 12/121 road. It’s been speculated that this photo was taken in 3050 Fremont Dr. (Sonoma Hwy.), Sonoma, California. The hill’s exact coordinates are 38.250124,-122.410817. The hill is part of a vineyard, with O’Rear’s original obviously being taken in mid-spring when the vines are richly green. Cloud cover is another hard thing to catch, since most of the time, this area of California is heavily overcast in the spring months and then generally almost completely clear the rest of the summer.
Charles O'Rear, the photographer who clicked the iconic picture, feels that the one-billion-figure is an educated guess rather than a fully-accounted-for statistic. Nevertheless, he does agree that the picture is easily one of the most recognisable across the world.
He says, "All the folks I talk with agree it is the most 'recognisable' photo ever. If it were shown to a villager in rural China, for example, good chance they would recognise it. If it were shown to astronauts on the ISS, good bet they would know it, too. I have seen it appear in photos of the White House situation room, the Kremlin, etc."
Captured by Simon Goldin on November 26, 2006
Captured by Tony Immoos on May 2, 2010
Captured by Google Street View on May 19, 2011