This hill is ubiquitous but surprisingly difficult to locate in reality.
The iconic Windows XP default desktop background of a sloping green hill under a brilliant blue sky is one of the most viewed photos in the world, but its generic sympathy has stumped internet dwellers as to its location on the real world, and some believe it is not a real photograph.
SFGate’s editor-in-chief recently set out to find the earthy theme of the computer background and discovered it covered in wine grapes, across the street from an alpaca farm and Highway 12 in Sonoma, California.
The photo even has an incredible backstory: Charles O’Rear took the now-legendary shot of what’s known as “Bliss” hill while driving to see his now-wife on a Friday afternoon in January 1996.
“Most of the people who saw that photograph, billions of people, thought it was not a real photograph,” O’Rear said. “Driving through the hills of Sonoma in January there’s always a carpet of green grass, it’s beautiful. I knew it, and it was just the perfect light, the perfect clouds. “
O’Rear, 79, uploaded the photo to a stock photography agency. When Microsoft discovered O’Rear’s injection, the company paid an unknown but supposedly six-figure sum for the rights in perpetuity and quickly placed it around the world as part of a billion-dollar marketing campaign.
Despite O’Rear’s prolific photographic career filming for the Los Angeles Times, The Kansas City Star and, for more than two decades, National Geographic, he is well aware that his ubiquitous image of “Bliss” Hill will be what he remembers. .
“After 25 years of photographing in National Geographic, there will be no mention of Geographic on my tombstone,” he told the publication.
Despite the ubiquity and fame that the image has brought him – he says “not a week goes by without an email about that photograph arriving” – having his legacy tied to the tech company didn’t buy his loyalty.
“I got hooked on Apple,” he said.