Friday, April 11, 2014

Looking back out the Windows

This week, Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system. As a kind of a parting gift, they released this video on the story behind their “Bliss” default desktop photo. I think it’s interesting.

Like a lot of people, I always assumed the photo was fake—or, at least, a real photo Photoshopped to make a fake reality. Turns out, I was wrong: It’s a real photo, and not Photoshopped. Instead, it’s by professional photographer, Charles O'Rear. This is yet another example of why we should always challenge our assumptions.

I think that this also shows that professional photographers can take amazing photographs, and those who learned their art in the pre-digital era (and the “Bliss” photo was taken in 1996) maybe have something special that digital-only photographers, well, do differently (I don’t want to seem to cast aspersions on digital, since everything I do is digital!). Old-school photographers could create their artworks without the need for digital effects. Us amateurs, of course, would usually be lost without digital tools and effects. Which is why you’ll never see any of MY photos become ubiquitous.

Actually, this photo is sort of the definition of ubiquitous. Charles O’Rear said in the video, “Anybody now, from age 15 on, for the rest of their life, will remember this photograph.” He said people will go through their lives, then one day, decades from now, they’ll see the photo and they won’t remember where they saw it, but they’ll remember it. I think he’s right.

I think it’s always good to know the story behind the ubiquitous things in our lives.


coreplane said...

Ironically, the advent of XP was the time I switched 100% off Windows permanently, so I've only been exposed to that image sporadically in pictures/glimpses of other peoples' screens. Of course, returning to some version of Unix (ie Linux) was like coming home for me. I'd been using Unix since long before there was a Windows. Software development even at Microsoft was, at the time, done mostly on Berkeley Unix (there was one DEC-10 system, as well as PDP-11/45s, racks of M68k-based boxes, maybe Vaxen- don't remember for sure) You couldn't do serious software development on a DOS/Win PC back then. Some of us think this hasn't really changed at all. :)

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I've always been only a computer user, Mac and PC only (well, iOS, too). I've used XP from the beginning, though now it's very seldom that I need a Windows machine at all.