My friend Yang Chu alerted me to a recent update Meitu, the most popular Chinese photo-editing app, has made. It now includes a “desmog” filter that one can apply to photos to allow an embrace of “blue skies.”
I tested the app using several photos of smog in China, and to my disappointment, it didn’t reveal a blue sky magically hiding behind all the pollution.
Here’s a photo I took outside the Beijing airport on July 29, 2010, with the “before” photo on top, and the “after desmog” filter on the bottom. The filter had the effect of brightening the sky, but I think the same effect could have probably been achieved by increasing the brightness/contrast on the image.
When I applied Meitu’s “auto-enhance” feature, I got a little closer to the blue sky I was promised (on the bottom), although it also applied a teal tinge to almost everything in the photo. Check out this photo I took in Chongqing on June 11, 2011, with the actual photo on top, the “desmog” photo in the middle, and the “auto” enhance filter applied on the bottom.