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An image of San Francisco's orange sky Wednesday, taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 20. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

The apocalyptic orange sky in San Francisco Wednesday was the talk of the town — and well beyond. However, many people found their efforts to capture the surreal images stymied, as their iPhones "corrected" the smoke-filled sky to a more natural hue.

The big picture: Smartphone cameras do a great job in many situations thanks to software that automatically tries to improve a shot's composition, focus, and settings like white and color balance. But those adjustments can also get in the way of capturing what's unique about some of life's most vivid images.

After waking up to the orange sky, I first tried to shoot out my back door, but found my iPhone was adjusting the sky to a much more common gray. On social media, I saw lots of others having the same experience with both still and video coming from their phones.

Around midday, I headed to Bernal Heights Park, which overlooks the city, including downtown SF and the Bay Bridge, armed with an iPhone 11 Pro Max, a Pixel 4a, a Galaxy Note 20 and my Canon DSLR.

  • The Galaxy Note 20 did the best job of the smartphones (see above) at capturing the vivid hues of the sky, but none of the phones came close to what I was able to capture using the Canon.
  • The one shot where my iPhone was able to capture the sky's hue also included our orange Honda Fit.

Yes, but: In all cases I used the device's default settings. Bloomberg reporter Sarah Frier said she used the app Hallide to avoid the iPhone's color correction.

The bottom line: This was a moment for my Canon to prove that, despite its bulk, it can't always be replaced by a smartphone.

Here's what the view from Bernal Heights Park looked like through my Canon DSLR.

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

And here is the photo where the iPhone was able to show the orange sky:

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Go deeper

Sep 9, 2020 - Science

In photos: Bay Area enveloped in smoke as wildfires rage across California

A view of the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. Photo: Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco's skies were thick with smoke from ongoing wildfires on Wednesday, largely blocking the sun from view amid hazardous air quality across the Bay Area.

The big picture: Roughly 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major wildfires across California. There have been eight fatalities from wildfires this year and over 2.5 million acres have burned across the state, per Cal Fire.

McConnell circulates revised GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks with reporters in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell circulated a new framework for coronavirus stimulus legislation to Republican members on Tuesday that would establish a fresh round of funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program and implement widespread liability protections, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The revised GOP relief draft comes after McConnell's meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, during which they went over in detail what provisions would get backing from President Trump.

Barr appoints special counsel to continue investigating origins of Russia probe

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday he appointed veteran prosecutor John Durham as a special counsel on Oct. 19 to continue investigating the origins of the FBI's 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why it matters: It's an extra layer of protection for Durham to continue investigating possible misconduct by Obama-era intelligence officials past Joe Biden's inauguration as president.

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