Nature wallpaper

As expressed in an earlier guest post, having the ability to change out your computer’s wallpaper is a way to express yourself, and to maybe have a window to another world while you are stuck being a desk jockey.

There are many sites to find quality nature wallpaper images for your computer, especially some fantastic pictures of animals,  so I thought I would visit many and see what I liked, and what I did not like, about the different sites out there. This is far from a comprehensive list, but is an overview of several, and I did find significant differences between them.

For me, the best sites for nature wallpaper need to have (or not have) several things. First, the site needs to offer good quality images. This is generally something that they all do as there are many great nature photographers out there. However, it is not always clear where the sites get their images that they offer to you.

In addition to good images, there should be diversity. Does the site live up to its promise of offering diversity in the images? For example, at least one of the sites I looked at had long lists of categories of images, with several categories having no pictures. No doubt a work in progress, but if they don’t have the images, maybe they are ahead of themselves in having the category posted.

Finally, are they luring me to their site with the promise of great images only to bombard me with tons of ads and pop-ups? I really hate that and will never suggest a site to you if they look “spamy.”

Using these general guidelines, I created a subjective rating scale of 1-5, with five being the best quality sites, and 1 being the worst (sites with a 0 triggered my McAfee warning, and so are worse than not-recommended). Here are the sites and my rankings (in no particular order):

National Geographic
Overall rating: 5

How can you do better than the photography at National Geographic? Amazing photographs made available to you without a lot of outside ads. You do get lots of NG ads, but that is understandable. In addition to photographs from the magazines, users can upload and share their photos too. You can create an account and collect images that you like. A great photographic resource.
Overall rating: 5

Flickr (by Yahoo) is a photography-lover’s site where people can post and share their images. This site is a goldmine if you are looking for great, high quality, and diverse images for your desktop. Because it contains images of people who just love photographs, there are no annoying ads to wade through. However, many of the images are for sale, and you should respect the copyright policies that are listed there. But for getting unusual images for free to spice up your desktop and workspace, this site and Picasa web, get the highest rating.
Overall rating: 5

Picasa web is Google’s version of photography sharing, and all of the same can be said for it as was said for Flickr–great images available to you for free for your enjoyment. The same caveats apply, respect the copyright wishes of the photographers and do not use for commercial purposes without permission. But both sites have fantastic images, with more added all the time.

Polar bears
Overall rating: 3

This site would have rated higher except for the annoying pop-up ad when you first enter, and the flashing ads throughout. If you can ignore them, some of the images here are very good. They offer images in different resolutions for different sized monitors, which is nice. If you look hard enough (around the big banner ad at the top) you can find links to see the highest rated images and most popular, but you do have to navigate around ads.

Ladybird beetle
Overall rating: 4
This site came to myattention based upon a comment below, and I am glad it did. This is a good quality site for images. The image quality is variable, but there are many categories well defined and organized, and while there are ads on the site, they are not too distracting. I note that they also have a donate button, and given that we all need to make a bit to cover the daily coffee bill, I would rather give a small donation that way than have more ads. So, by all means, if you take a little, leave a little.
Overall rating: 3

About 13 broad categories of images. The site is clean without too many ads, however some of the linked sites are a bit more spamy, so you might avoid them. I really like that they offer images in different resolutions for different sized monitors. Images nice quality, but not a huge number available.
Overall rating: 3

Another clean-looking site. This site has fewer categories overall, but more diversity. For example, this site has space images, fine art, and digital art. However, their overall collection of nature-themed images is not huge. And, the images are broken into “animal wallpapers” and “nature wallpapers,” so it is a bit harder to navigate I think.
Overall rating: 1

This site crashed my browser several times. There are multiple pop-up ads. It is not always clear when you click on something in the site that you are going to get re-directed to another site. In short, stay away.
Overall rating: 2

Nice images, but navigation in the site is difficult. Could not find easy categories for sorting of images.

Preying mantis on a stick
Overall rating: 4

This site has more of a “home-grown” feel, like the person putting up the images shot most of them personally. While they are all nice, many do not have that “professional” look, which is actually nice. There are just a few categories of images listed across the top of the home page. Spending a bit of time digging through the site will likely result in finding some treasures. I personally found the number of flashing ads and scrolling images when you first open the site a bit annoying, and it almost cost the site a rating point from me (that will teach ‘em).

Grizzly bear
Overall rating: 4

Nice clean site with quality images of wildlife. Many categories listed, but there are often few, or even no, images in each one. For example, there is one image in the “Gerenuk” category (I had to look that up, it is a species of antelope found in East Africa).But there are no images in the Beetles category, a subject that several of the other sites cover well. The site gets a rating of 4 for ease of navigation, but almost got a 3 for such problems.

Brittle Star
Overall rating: 5

The author of this site states that he was tired of visitng wallpaper sites and being bombarded by ads (amen), so he created this site. It is clean and ad-free which is refreshing. There are several main categories of images, with the dominate style being landscapes. I found few images of animals, and those were underwater shots. Some very nice pictures and a great place for landscapes.
Overall rating: 0

This site triggered my McAfee warning. Avoid.

So, there you have it. Hope this is useful to you.

Other related posts:
Nature wallpaper for fun
Outdoor wallpapers for your PC

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