Windows themes for the armchair traveler

One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to see thousands of images submitted by artists and photographers from around the world, through the Open Call project. From sweeping landscapes and cityscapes to macro images that show the tiny details of a dried leaf or the reflections in a drop of water, it’s an armchair traveler’s dream job —although we do get so many submissions that it can be a bit overwhelming, too. From the many thousands that are submitted to us, I try to bring you the very best images in themes and as wallpapers on the Personalization Gallery.

Let me bring you along on one of my armchair tours with a set of new Open Call themes that take us from New Zealand to India, with stopovers along the way in Canada, Germany, Sardinia, Macedonia, and the UK.

Our trip begins in New Zealand. I love Ian Rushton’s gorgeous HDR landscape photography, so I am excited to bring you his first theme on the Windows Personalization Gallery, which was just published today. With this theme we take a vicarious vacation to the beaches of New Zealand’s West Coast, complete with lapping waves and the cries of seagulls. By the way, stay tuned in upcoming weeks for additional themes from Ian Rushton showcasing more of New Zealand’s beauty! If you ever wondered why so many films are shot in NZ, you will wonder no more.

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Next stop is Canada. With Winter Garden, photographer Hayley Elizabeth gives us a frosty follow-up to her previous two themes, Garden Life and Garden Life 2. This time, her camera is trained on delicate ice crystals and dried seed pods instead of lush flowers and buzzing bees, but there is still beauty to be found in a garden, even when the ground is frozen and nothing is blooming. Besides, it’s the one time of year when I don’t need to feel guilty about putting off weeding.

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We detour now to coastal Germany with photographer Frank Hojenski, who captures both stormy drama and windswept serenity in images that include beachscapes and lakesides from around Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as well as boats bound for Denmark on the Baltic Sea. I like the moody lighting of his photographs.

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Our travels take us next to one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea; Sardinian Shores showcases the work of Italian photographer Giovanni Cultrera in stunning shots of Sardinia’s starkly beautiful granite beaches and gleaming waterfront cityscapes. The water in Cultrera’s photos reflects misty sunset hues in some images and is startlingly limpid and clear in others.

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Our next outing is a nature walk with Macedonian photographer Slavco Stojanoski, who focuses on water in a smaller way. His gorgeous macro photographs reveal tiny, glassy worlds in raindrops and dew, strung like beads on a spider’s web, or jeweling the surface of a leaf.

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London is our next stop, and the architecture of London has never looked more stunning than in the photographs of Imran Mirza. His innovative images show famous landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, the Millennium Bridge, the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace in a dramatic new light.

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The last stopover on our virtual flight is a visit to the parks and gardens of Nagpur with photographer Mayur Kotlikar. In a follow-up to his popular Bees theme, Kotlikar provides another collection of exquisite macro images; this time showcasing the colorful diversity of butterflies found in and around the winter capital of Maharashtra, India.

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That concludes our armchair travels for this week. You may return your recliner to its upright position while we taxi gently to a close. Please fly with us again in the future, as we take you and your Windows desktop to more beautiful locations around the world. No tickets, no standing in line, and best of all, no airport security required. Thanks again for traveling with us; this is your captain, signing off.

Update: I can’t believe that in this post I totally forgot to mention the one new theme that celebrates an armchair traveler’s true best friend: BOOKS!

Stack of old books

When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a librarian, because I thought that meant I would be able to sit around all day reading books. The new Beauty of Books theme harks back to this childhood dream by showcasing some of the most illustrious libraries in the world, and the gorgeous old books to be found in them.

Baroque library hall with ceiling artwork by Jan Hiebl, Clementinum, Prague, Czech Republic

I even scheduled this theme to coincide with National Library Week (4/14-4/20)… and then I forgot to mention it. D’oh! Well, even though Library Week is over now, I still hope you’ll enjoy this theme in honor of your local library and in appreciation of all the people who work to make books available to everyone.