If you tried to take a photo with your phone of the dystopian orange sky in Northern California Wednesday, you may have noticed your image appeared washed out.
That’s because the default camera app in most mobile devices, including iPhones, are generally set to automatically correct the white balance of photos. That makes it difficult to capture the true color of the sky we are seeing right now without manually overriding color correction and auto-exposure.
“The Apple built-in photo app does a great job with most things because it’s automatically doing adjustments and making everything look pretty by smoothing faces and balancing out shadows,” said Maurice Ramirez,who, as the official photographer for the town of Alameda, was taking photos of the apocalyptic skies Wednesday. “But when you’re in a crazy situation like this, it’s going to take that crazy color and average it out.”
RELATED: Thick wildfire smoke blocks sun, turns Bay Area sky orange
You can try fiddling with your iPhone to improve your photos by holding your finger on the screen and when a square pops up, adjusting the slider for the exposure level. You may also need to decrease the brightness level to more accurately reflect what you are seeing with your eyes.
Ramirez recommends downloading a photo app that allows you full control over white balance and exposure to more closely capture the orange color of the light. He likes to use Camera Plus or ProCam.
A thick curtain of wildfire smoke hovered high in the atmosphere over much of Northern California Wednesday, blocking the sun and turning the sky a deep pumpkin orange color.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office in Monterey. “This is not a common sight across the Bay Area because this takes very specific conditions in order for this to happen. Obviously you need fires that have ample smoke production. Then you need wind to bring that smoke in over the Bay Area.”
Amy Graff is the news editor for SFGATE. Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.