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Photographer Speaks Out About Viral Photo That Caused Some Android Phones To Crash

Photographer Speaks Out About Viral Photo That Caused Some Android Phones To Crash

A photographer has spoken out about how his image unintentionally caused Android phones to fail, a bizarre glitch that made it go viral.

Android users recently took to social media to claim that a picture of a lake was crashing their handsets when used as wallpaper, with several brands appearing to be affected - including Samsung and Google Pixel (It should probably go without saying, but if you've got any concerns, don't try it out for yourself).

The photo was taken by a scientist and amateur photographer Gaurav Agrawal, who snapped the vista at St Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, back in August 2019.

Agrawal, who lives in San Diego, California, innocently posted it on photo-sharing site Flickr, and had no idea about the harm it could cause until he noticed people talking about it online - with many claiming the handsets would start switching on and off, in turn meaning the phone needed a factory reset, and that their data would be wiped.

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Speaking to the BBC, he said: "I didn't do anything intentionally.

"I'm sad that people ended up having issues."

Recalling the night the photograph was taken, Agrawal added: "It was a magical evening.

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"It was gloomy and cloudy, and we thought there wasn't going to be a great sunset. We were about to leave when things started to change."

Agrawal had taken the photo on his Nikon camera, and edited it afterwards using editing software called Lightroom.

It was during the edit that the bug supposedly crept in, as the colour mode option Agrawal chose for exporting the final image was one that seems to not be compatible with Android models.

"I'm going to use another format from now on," he said.

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Agrawal's Flickr post now has a warning which says: "Nothing is wrong this photo but I gathered that it was exported from LR in ProPhotoRGB format with is not compatible with Android phone for some reason."

Credit: Flickr/Gaurav Agrawal
Credit: Flickr/Gaurav Agrawal

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Thankfully, his memory of the beautiful moment doesn't seem to be too tarnished by the unexpected viral fame, with the post also telling fans about the incredible scene he had witnessed.

Agrawal writes: "The sunset was such a surprise! Most fun to shoot than any other in my recent memory.

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"The evening was looking to be a bust as there was a think cloud cover, but didn't have much choice as we were already there. I pick up a nice spot with a clear view of the lake with he Goose Island visible in the center. I was looking to 'document' that I was there and didn't expect any magical light whatsoever.

Gaurav Agrawal said it was a 'magical evening' when he shot the picture. Credit: Facebook/Gaurav Agrawal
Gaurav Agrawal said it was a 'magical evening' when he shot the picture. Credit: Facebook/Gaurav Agrawal
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"It all changed in the last few minutes of sunset. I almost started to pack my camera gear but saw the clouds clear out at the horizon just enough for the sun to peak out and produce these remarkable colors!"

He adds: "I think we were super lucky to be there to witness am amazing turn of events! This is an outlier of an experience as it is usually the other way around where a good looking evening turns out to be a boring grey sunset!"

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Samsung is rolling out an update to fix the issue on 11 June. LADbible has contacted Google for comment.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Explaining a little more about what went wrong, Ken Munro and Dave Lodge from security firm Pen Test Partners said phones sometimes crash when they don't know how to display a 'colour space' properly.

They told the BBC: "As digital photographs have improved in quality, phones need to check what the image 'colour space' is to work out how to display it properly.

"It's how a phone knows how to display exactly the right shade of green, for example.

"There are different ways of defining the colour space. Some spaces have specialist uses in graphic design, so sometimes you'll see images that aren't in the usual 'Standard RGB' format. It's also possible to deliberately create images that have more colour information than some devices can handle.

"What's happened here is that the way some phones deal with these cases has gone wrong.

"The phone crashes because it doesn't know how to deal with it correctly, and the software developers probably hadn't considered this might happen."

Featured Image Credit: Flickr/Gaurav Agrawal

Topics: Viral, News, phones, Photography, Technology

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Jess Hardiman

Jess is a journalist at LADbible who graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Film Studies, English Language and Linguistics - indecisiveness at its finest, right there. She also works for FOODbible and its sister page Seitanists, which are both a safe haven for her to channel a love for homemade pasta, fennel and everything else in between. You can contact Jess at [email protected]