Many people are already taking pictures of wildfires in San Francisco and posting them on social media. However, you may want to think twice before posting an apocalypse-like scene shot from a film with a natural angle to the catastrophe. Many smartphones can distort reality.
The situation in California looks just like the wasteland in Blade Runner 2049 or Resident Evil: Apocalypse. In August, approximately 100 wildfires devastated the western United States. The fire throws away smoke and ash particles that forced 500,000 people to leave their homes in Oregon alone.
Many people have been trying to catch what is going on and have broadcast it worldwide. They have found an unusual phenomenon, though. Any images or photos of the strange, orange sky seemed to eliminate or delete the San Franciso wildfires’ actual danger.
Journalist Sarah Frier posted images of the September 9 fire and smoke that obscured the California Sun.
“Fire smoke blocking out the sun in San Francisco this morning. This is 7:40am. There are so many fires in and around the state,” she captioned.
“I didn’t filter these – in fact the iPhone color corrected the sky to make it look less scary. Imagine more orange. Be safe out there everyone… and thanks to the firefighters,” added the journalist.
Why is that?
Smartphones automatically edits the photos like it’s engaged in a plot to conceal the real event. That is because today’s smartphones are equipped with software that automatically corrects the images’ color to make it more realistic.
The system changes the wildfire pictures automatically because the orange skies are unnatural. While a smartphone camera is a great way to record natural disasters or other activities, it typically doesn’t display accurate world images.
The explanation for this lies in how your phone takes photos. But far deeper than that, it’s down to something raw and physical: the color of white light.
In fact, white light is never just “white.” It has a temperature of color, measured in Kelvin degrees that dictates the light’s exact hue.
Cameras are a different story. They don’t know how a scene should look by default, so the color temperature can drastically affect images. Suppose the color temperature setting of a camera is out of sync with the scene’s color temperature. In that case, you end up with odd hues and color casts that make images look unnatural.
What you need to do to capture accurate images
Several people discovered that photos of their smartphones could not be trusted. Hence, they installed numerous apps that would allow them to change the white balance on their own. Since the sensor doesn’t see color in the first place, people can not “switch off” the color correction of their devices.
The same issue also applies to video cameras. Different stocks of processes in production and creation had their color renditions. Fuji Velvia, for example, focuses on the vibrancy. Kodak Portra, on the other hand, is built to complement skin tones.
Smartphones and cameras, including DSLRs or SLRs, nowadays have software that manipulates images more than ever before. Nowadays, no photograph can be called unfiltered.