Clinging to Normalcy

Here’s Why Smartphones Are Struggling to Take Pics of Apocalyptic Skies

byVictor Tangermann
9. 10. 20

Smartphones are deciding what looks "real" — and what doesn't.

Orange Skies

Smartphone cameras are having an unusually difficult time capturing the apocalyptic orange skies hanging over much of the West Coast right now.

Massive clouds of smoke, caused by dozens of uncontrolled wildfires, have turned major cities across California and Oregon into something resembling a Martian landscape.

But onlookers found their smartphones were struggling to capture the unusual, vivid shade of orange. The result: most photographs ended up being washed out or turned the orange sky grey.


Color Correction

That’s mainly due to automatic color correction built into the default camera apps preloaded onto most smartphones, according to Axios. The software controlling the cameras is desperately attempting to correct hues and exposure to resemble more normal-looking sky.

In other words, the smartphone expects a blue, overcast, or night sky — not an orange hellscape straight out of “Mad Max.”

It’s easy to forget: some handsets, especially iPhones and Google’s Pixel phones, are doing a lot of heavy computational lifting when you take shots.

Manual Override

That’s why, to get an accurate picture of California’s orange skies, color correction must be manually overriden, as CNET explains. Third-party apps such as Halide or Adobe’s Lightroom will get you far more accurate results right off the bat thanks to more manual controls.


“If you want a more realistic orange photo, try putting something in the frame the AI recognizes the ‘normal’ color of — like a human being,” advised Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler on Twitter.

Turning off auto white balance in the main camera app will also get you far better results. Try setting it to “daylight” rather than having the app try to estimate it itself.

READ MORE: Smartphone cameras struggle to capture San Francisco’s orange sky [Axios]


More on the orange skies: The Skies in California Basically Look Like the Apocalypse Right Now

As a Futurism reader, we invite you join the Singularity Global Community, our parent company’s forum to discuss futuristic science & technology with like-minded people from all over the world. It’s free to join, sign up now!

Share This Article

Copyright ©, Singularity Education Group All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.