Chuck O’Rear, the photographer of “Bliss” (1996), which appeared as the wallpaper on at least a billion computers in the 2000s and probably seen by at least a third of mankind. In the Netherlands it is known as “Ireland” even though it is a picture of California.
The photograph was taken by professional photographer Charles O’Rear, a resident of St. Helena, Napa County, for digital-design company HighTurn. According to O’Rear, the photograph was not digitally enhanced or manipulated in any way.
O’Rear has also taken photographs for Bill Gates’s private Seattle stock photography company Corbis and Napa Valley photographs for the May 1979 National Geographic article “Napa, Valley of the Vine”. Although O’Rear’s focus was on photographing winemaking in the Napa Valley, the hill in Bliss didn’t have grapevines when the photograph was taken in 1996, five years before the release ofWindows XP. The photograph was taken on the side of the highway 12/121[map 1] by a hand held medium-format camera. The approximate location is 3101 Fremont Dr. (Sonoma Hwy.), Sonoma, CA. The coordinates for the hill are 38.250124,-122.410817.