“Sorry, I just wanted a pretty photo” says photographer whose photo bricked thousands of Android phones
I don’t remember that a sunset photo has ever caused such a stir like it did earlier this month. The photo bricked phones of hundreds, if not thousands Android users who used it as a wallpaper. But it wasn’t done on purpose. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Scientist and photographer Gaurav Agrawal just wanted to capture a gorgeous last minute sunset. When he edited the photo and published it on Flickr, he didn’t even dream what mess it would cause.
It stated when Ice universe tweeted the photo, warning people not to set it as wallpaper. According to multiple reports, the photo bricked certain Google Pixel and Samsung phones, as well as OnePlus, Nokia, and Xiaomi. It affected phones that use Android 10, making the screen turn on and off constantly. There was no help other than factory reset to have the phone back to normal.
Never set this picture as wallpaper, especially for Samsung mobile phone users!
It will cause your phone to crash!
Don't try it!
If someone sends you this picture, please ignore it. pic.twitter.com/rVbozJdhkL
— ICE UNIVERSE (@UniverseIce) May 31, 2020
But Guarav had nothing like this in mind when taking the photo. In the photo’s description, he writes that the sunset surprised him considering that it was a very cludy day. “I was looking to ‘document’ that I was there and didn’t expect any magical light whatsoever,” he explains. “It all changed in the last few minutes of sunset.” Guarav almost packed his gear when he saw the clouds clear out at the horizon. It was “just enough for the sun to peak out and produce these remarkable colors!”
When he edited the photo in Lightroom, Guarav exported it using an extra-wide HDR color space to preserve more color information. However, phones that use Android 10 are unable to display this color space, which caused them to crash.
Gaurav’s photos have been published on National geographic and he has over 10,500 followers on Flickr. So, someone apparently downloaded his photo and set it as a wallpaper, only to discover that it would cause it to crash. And from there on, the story about the “cursed image” spread like wildfire.
“I hoped my photograph would have gone ‘viral’ for a good reason, but maybe that’s for another time,” Guarav told the BBC. “I’m going to use another format from now on,” he added.
You might wonder if this image caused a problem on its maker’s phone too. Well, the answer is no. “I have an iPhone, and my wallpaper is always a photo of my wife,” the photographer told the BBC.
Anyways, while the fix is likely coming soon, I suggest that you don’t download the photo and use it as a wallpaper. However, do visit Guarav’s Flickr and enjoy plenty of beautiful images. It’s perfectly safe, I promise!
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.