Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Wildfire Smoke Conditions in California Are Too Extreme for Automatic White Balance to Accurately Represent

Victoria Song, Gizmodo:

Normally, you wouldn’t want your phone to take pictures with an overly orange cast. But, there are times when you might. Like when massive wildfires are turning the West Coast’s normally clear blue skies a violently orange-reddish hue.


The above tweet is an extreme example. Jessica Christian, a staff photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted a similar observation about her phone trying to color correct the abnormal skies. Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier encountered the same issue and took other with and without color correction photos as well. Based on Earther’s own investigation, not every phone may color correct to this extent. That said, there’s a chance your phone camera may not capture the true color of what you’re seeing.

The photos I saw today of wildfire smoke blanketing the Bay Area are haunting. I thought I had seen intensely smokey conditions in Calgary, but it’s nothing compared to this. Halide developer Ben Sandofsky took a light metre outside and it registered just 88 lux at midmorning.

I hope those of you who are dealing with this in addition to everything else happening right now are staying healthy and safe.

See Also: Coverage by Emily Atkin and a collection of links from Jason Kottke.