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The world's most viewed photo

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When you think iconic photos, images such as Alfred Eisenstaedt's V-J Day in Times Square or the Vietnamese "napalm girl" shot by Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong Ut, spring to mind.

However, the reality of the world's most viewed image is rather more bland - it's Microsoft's default wallpaper for Windows XP.

Titled Bliss, the photo of rolling hills in Sonoma County, California has been viewed by over one billion people since its launch in 2001 and over 400 million official copies have been used in the past six years alone.

The original image was shot by photographer Charles O’Rear in 1996. He was driving along Highway 121 when he decided to stop by the side of the road and take a photo using his medium format camera.

Microsoft have blocked him from revealing exactly how much he was paid for the image: but he has since indicated it was a huge amount for a single photo - second at the time only to that paid for an image of the then-President Bill Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky.

As you can see from the photos below, Sonoma County remains a beautiful spot for photos with gently rolling valleys, dramatic mountain ranges and picturesque vineyards.

Photos: Rex Features and Getty Images

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