Browser Backgrounds

This weekend is the August Bank Holiday and, as the traffic to my blog is fairly quiet, I’m giving myself a small break. I have an interesting blog planned but it can wait a week.  So, today, I’m looking at my browser background, that is, the photos I have as a background on my browser, and why I chose them.

Odeschalchi Castle, Bracciano. I liked this shot of the view taken halfway down the castle on the way out – it gives the picture depth

Everyone’s choice of browser background is different; some people have family photos, others holiday snaps, and maybe some have an all-purpose background which never changes.

Ightham Mote, Kent; quirky 14th century moated manor house

I use photographs of places I’ve been to – but they have to tick several boxes. The image has to be a strong one, something which looks good over the whole screen – no fuzzy edges. And the photo must also be of an interesting place which reminds me of a pleasant day out.

Thunderstorm near Selinute, Sicily. Dramatic, yes, but not a suitable background photo.

I have several Italian photographs taken in dramatic thunderstorms – but I wouldn’t use them as a background. It poured throughout my visit to the ruined temples at Selinute and all I remember is a louring sky, flashes of lightning, being absolutely soaked, and seeing everything through a curtain of rain. It certainly left a vivid memory but not one I want to revisit every morning when I open my computer.

Generalife Gardens, Granada. I liked the leafy ‘frame’ of the picture

Of course, the photo has to be landscape rather than portrait and, nowadays, I often deliberately take photos which I think might be suitable browser background material. In the photo above, I rather like the way the foreground is darkish while the distance is brighter and more colourful. It’s a bit like looking through a window.

The site of old Phoenician port, island of Motya, Sicily, with huge fennel in the foreground

I also like the drama of having something centre stage, like the fennel above, and I’m happy to move the icons on the browser around to accommodate it, if necessary. I’d never seen fennel this size before I went to Sicily and I was impressed by its dramatic potential.

Punts on the River Cam, Cambridge. There’s something about water which is very soothing

No background photo stays on the screen for too long – I enjoy trying out and choosing new pictures but, of course, if I particularly like a photo, I may use it again. I chose the photo above partly because it wasn’t overcrowded and fussy; it had turned out well and and it reminded me of a fun day. Also, I liked the terracotta colour of the boats which made such a pleasing contrast with the water and the greenery.

Villa Aldobrandini courtyard, Frascati.

I don’t have people in my photos if I can avoid it, though that has its disadvantages; it’s more difficult to judge size without a human presence to give a sense of scale. In the wonderful courtyard of the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati, the statue of Atlas holding up the world is huge, much bigger than life-size. The other statues of Greek heroes, gods and goddesses are, if not quite so big, still more than life-size. The whole edifice is immensely impressive. It would have been even more so eighty years ago when the fountains and elaborate water features worked.

The lion fountain in the Lion Courtyard in the Alhambra, Granada

Some of the subjects of my photos are well known; most people have seen a photograph of the Lion Courtyard in the Alhambra, for example. In fact, visitor popularity brings its own problems; it takes time and patience to photograph something which is obscured by masses of people, all wanting to take their own photos. Fortunately, our group was booked in really early, which helped.


Chinese wallpaper: Pitzhanger Manor

And now for something completely different. The moment I saw the spectacular hand-painted wallpaper in the drawing-room at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing, London, the architect Sir John Soane’s country home, I thought it might make an unusual and interesting browser background. And it does.

Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s country home; the gardens at the back of the house

I’m ending with Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s country home. I was particularly pleased with the way the vine leaves framed the edges of the photo. I wasn’t sure how it would come out, but I was delighted with the result.

Elizabeth Hawksley


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6 thoughts on “Browser Backgrounds”

  1. What a terrific photographer you are. These are all marvellous – full of character and even the suggestion of movement.

    I’m so bad at it, that I nearly always forget my camera. But you have inspired me to try again – if only to fail better.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Jenny. I went to an unusual primary school where they taught ‘Picture Study’ and, each term, we looked at the works of two great masters: Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Turner etc. It taught me to look carefully at how artists get the effect they want: where the light source is, how an object in the foreground can affect how you see the rest of the painting, and so on. I try to use my camera in the same way. Of course, it doesn’t always work, but it’s very gratifying when it does!

  2. Agree with Jenny’s comment. Love the Chinese wallpaper. I have a permanent browser background of four white horses running along the seashore. I love it too much to change it.

    1. Your picture of the four white horses running along the seashore sounds wonderful, Elizabeth. I had a pony as a child, and I once rode her, bareback, in the sea; I remember the exact moment I felt her swimming. It was very exciting. I’d have loved a photo of it.

  3. A fantastic collection of images! Your picture of Granada from the Generalife is indeed very well framed.
    Quick side note: the correct term for these images is actually a desktop wallpaper. A browser is what you use to browse the internet, while the desktop is the visual nexus from which you can access the various functions of your computer. Semantics, I know.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Huon. I’m now a bit confused (mind you, I often am with regard to computer-speak) because when I’m editing my photos, if I click on Image, it offers me ‘Set as Background’ not ‘set as wallpaper’, which is why I called my post Browser Background. I don’t like the word ‘wallpaper’ which has negative connotations – no-one wants to be described as someone who fades into the wallpaper, after all. And a desktop to my mind is horizontal rather than vertical. And I’m still not quite sure how a ‘browzer’ differs from a screen. I’ve always thought a ‘browser’ was a ruminant – like a cow.

      Still, I’m delighted you liked the images!

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