Back in 2012, shortly after Apple got the whole “Retina” ball rolling, the pickings for beautiful high-resolution desktop wallpapers were pretty slim. The list I compiled in October 2012 highlighted just five sites, and I had to scour the place to drum that many up.
Thankfully those five were terrific, flush with beautiful imagery, much of it captured and cultivated by professional photographers, talented artists and enthusiasts of eclectic cultural miscellany. They’ve more than kept my 2800 x 1880 pixel workspace happy. But we’re a ways from 2012, and with 4K and higher screens on the rise, the world’s filling up with post-1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) content.
So here’s my list of picks updated for 2014, including the five original sites — still some of the best around — but with several lovely additions. Keep tabs on these, and you’re looking at enough art to swap your desktop or mobile device’s wallpaper several times a day for years to come.
If I had to pick one site, it would still be this one (it was my favorite last time, too). The photographic and post-shot editing talent on display in this joint is second to none, and the images now roll up past my 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s 2880 x 1880 resolution to 3840 x 2400 (as well as 3860 x 2160, the 4K ultra high definition TV standard). The site itself is also one of the most elegantly designed and easy to navigate, each picture annotated with the photographer’s capture device specs and post-processing notes.
You won’t find many photographs at Vladstudio, but you will find some of the best eclectic digital art on the web. Russian artist Vlad Gerasimov’s collection of desktop wallpapers is gorgeous, a trove of clever, imaginative and occasionally humorous themes that range from seasonal showcases and riffs on maps of the world to playful musings on digital life. Note: the desktop resolutions currently top out at 2880 x 1880, but the site includes support for most Apple and Android devices as well as multi-monitor (up to three) ultra-wide images.
Cost: Free for lower resolution images, $14.99 for a premium membership that unlocks the high-definition versions (the membership cost is one-time, and thus for life).