When planning and designing Twenty Ten, the new default theme in WordPress 3.0, we knew that the header would be a really prominent feature, a focal point, and wanted some good defaults to excite people about the theme. Some of the most popular themes on WP.com like Misty Look, Chaotic Soul, Ocean Mist, and Cutline all feature prominent photo headers.
It can be a pain to find appropriately licensed imagery for Open Source projects, so I asked MT to explore a bit from the random photos page on Ma.tt and see what he could find. Here are each of the images he chose, in header form and linked to the original, with the location and story behind each photo.
In December 2005 Automattic had just gotten started and I planned a Europe trip to raise awareness and also meet some of the community there. It started with Les Blogs in Paris, then to London where I met Mike Little (co-founder of WordPress), Mark Riley (then known as Podz), and Khaled for at a WP meetup. Finally I went to Ireland, specifically Blarney, where I met the first employee of Automattic Donncha O Caoimh in person and learned how to pronounce his name. We went on a photowalk together and I caught this lonely figure walking up a private road to Blarney Castle.
Earlier this year I had just attended my first DLD conference in Munich, Germany. I was cold and exhausted and awake far too early to catch the car to the airport for a cross-Atlantic flight to Memphis. Half asleep, I noticed the most beautiful fresh powder from a snow the night before dusting a forest along the road to the airport, snapped a quick photo with the aperture wide open, and the tint on the windows of the car made it even more dreamy. Shot with a 50mm at f/1.4 with 1/2500 shutter out of a car going probably 50 km/h.
These cherry blossoms, as well as the next two photos, were taken on the same day. I was in Osaka for WordCamp Kansai and Naoko McCracken was showing me some temples in nearby Kyoto. The cherry (and plum) blossoms had just started blooming so everything was magical. You can see MT artfully cropped the photo to exclude the power lines. Shot with a 70-200mm all the way out at 70mm and f/4.
The sun was starting to set and made the trees and such just gorgeous. 70-200mm at 70mm, f/2.8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 200.
I’m not sure what this vegetation is, but I’m pretty sure it was on the side of the road in Kyoto. A 70-200mm zoomed 86mm at f/2.8, 1/250 sec shutter, and ISO 200.
This “concave” image is from the roof of the mosque next to the Taj Mahal in Agra. 50mm, wide open at f/1.4. I was in India with Om for WordCamp Delhi and a bit of exploring the city where Om grew up before moving to New York and then San Francisco where we met. The Taj Mahal is a striking site and that entire day was full of exciting snaps, like two couches being carried on the back of a bike, a jumping photo that was my profile for a while, on of my favorite portraits of Om, and my favorite photo of the trip that captured the religious diversity of India with a Christian, Muslim, and Hindu sitting in a row. I can’t get enough of the geometric patterns in mosques as will be obvious when I finish posting my Turkey photos. The visit inspired Om to write a post about what the Taj Mahal and Apple have in common.
This header is named “sunset” but it’s actually a sunrise. It’s an understandable mistake, from what MT knows of me he probably never imagined I would be up that early. But this morning was special: it was my second day on a trip with Richard Branson at his game reserve in South Africa called Ulusaba. This sunrise was snapped coming down the hill from the rooms to start a game drive where we would find a pride of lions who had just gotten a kill, then visit a few of the projects Virgin Unite was supporting, and finally join a feast/festival on the grounds.
The last one isn’t a photo at all, but I just wanted to mention it because it’s one of two awesome illustrations Chad Pugh did for our Firefox Personas project. You can also see it blown up 15 feet long at Automattic’s lounge in San Francisco.
I must admit there is a certain thrill to knowing my photos are being enjoyed far and wide, similar to the thrill I got when I first contributed to Open Source. There’s also a kind of joy in seeing the author of Twenty Ten, the culmination of the work and creativity of so many people, being attributed in its style.css simply as “the WordPress team.”
Now go and make Twenty Ten your own. Note how MT cropped things. Also check out one of my favorite features in Twenty Ten: the ability to override the custom header on a per-post or per-page level, so every single one of your posts can be a unique snowflake.