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Smartphone cameras struggle to capture San Francisco's orange sky

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

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to polls on final day of early voting

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

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Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday outlined his plan for the country's second coronavirus lockdown as the nation topped the 1 million case mark, per Johns Hopkins University data.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close except for takeout. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Inter-mingling between households and outbound international travel or out-of-home boarding will be prohibited. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

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Trump's legacy is shaped by his narrow interests

President Trump's policy legacy is as much defined by what he's ignored as by what he's involved himself in.

The big picture: Over the past four years, Trump has interested himself in only a slim slice of the government he leads. Outside of trade, immigration, a personal war against the "Deep State" and the hot foreign policy issue of the moment, Trump has left many of his Cabinet secretaries to work without interruption, let alone direction.

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Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

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Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a quick-serve restaurant platform sponsored by Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.

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Federal judge halts Trump administration limit on TikTok

A federal judge on Friday issued an injunction preventing the Trump administration from imposing limits on the distribution of TikTok, Bloomberg reports. The injunction request came as part of a suit brought by creators who make a living on the video service.

Why it matters: The administration has been seeking to force a sale of, or block, the Chinese-owned service. It also moved to ban the service from operating in the U.S. as of Nov. 12, a move which was put on hold by Friday's injunction.

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Podcast: How hospitals are prepping for the new COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, particularly in areas that had been largely spared in the spring. One big question now is if hospitals are better prepared for this new wave, including if they'll be able to continue providing elective services.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what hospitals have, and what they still need, with Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, one of America's largest operators of hospitals and health clinics.

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.

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