1. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    [Admin: Thread split from https://www.metabunk.org/threads/debunked-the-sky-was-bluer.494/ ]

    There is an interesting piece on colour perception on the BBC News site today:
    Optical illusion: Dress colour debate goes global
    There is a link to the article in WIRED magazine:
    The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress

    The original image is in the middle. At left, white-balanced as if the dress is white-gold. At right, white-balanced to blue-black.

    Original image:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2015
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  2. Hevach

    Hevach Senior Member

    XKCD did a comic on it, too:
    Both (drawn) dresses have the exact same colors, just a different background makes one look white/gold and one look blue/black. The middle bar is a strip from the photo selected because in it, you can see the white/blue change without adjusting the white balance.

    The internet seems to collectively lose its mind every time this illusion comes up. Even the textbook standards of it have inspired huge arguments, because some people simply refuse to let go of what their brains are interpreting even in the face of proof that our evolutionary kludge is not infallible.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2015
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  3. Trigger Hippie

    Trigger Hippie Senior Member

    Easy enough for people to test the illusion. Just download the image into a graphic editor and click on both the dresses with a colour picker tool.

    In this case the RGB value for the Blue/White part of the dress is: R:135 G:154 B:189. Really interesting stuff.

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  4. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    it's the computer screen angle. being on a regular computer the dress is definitely a goldish and dark winter white. But when viewed at the online store the dress looks absolutely blue and black.

    Trying to figure out why some are seeing this particular posted pic of the dress as blue and black, i thought "iphones" and tilted my computer screen back like i was checking an iphone. The dress instantly becomes its normal blue and black.

    Therefore i dont think its 'eye cones' at all. i think its a photo taken in weird light balance viewed at different computer screen angles (light angles).

    the original dress: (which looks pure blue and pure black even on my normal computer screen)

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  6. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    ? it comes in blue, white, red and i think it was pink. but the lace is always black.

    see ..the further i lean back and down the more the white and gold changes to blue and black. when ME, i'm full upright the whole dress looks like the bottom skirt of the right hand image. (your right hand).
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
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  7. Freak

    Freak Active Member

    It's not the screen angles or settings or any of that. The dress in that picture is absolutely blue. Here's what happend with me.

    I heard about it on facebook the other day, brought it up and said "white and gold, clearly". Though It did look like maybe it was a touch blueish due, I assumed, to white balance. So I figured people were seeing a light blue dress, and maybe the brightness/contrast settings of those people's monitors caused it to be a touch darker and the lace to seem very dark, and they were calling it black. Went to bed, but happened to leave that browser window up when I put my computer to sleep.

    The next day I was looking up the explanations on my phone and came across an article where the girl who posted the pic said the dress is, in fact, blue. Then came across the Wired article linked above, where they explain it and even post a pic with the color values in a few different spots. Saw the white dress with the blue color blocks next to it. I do (crappy) photography, and so I understand how this stuff can happen, but I still saw white.

    So I go home, start up my computer and there on the screen is a royal blue and black dress. So I'm like WTF? Then while looking at some more related stuff, I come across the pic again. White and gold.

    Now I think this whole thing is some sort of elaborate early april fools joke. The images are either animated GIFs that change color, or they are rotating JPGs on the site. And I start searching for more info.

    Then while actually reading something next to a pic of the white dress, I glance at it and.... It changes colors while I'm watching.

    I have seen it both colors on the same screen, with the same settings and the same viewing angle. I even went so far as to download it in JPG form to make sure it was the same pic, and I keep seeing it in both colors.

    That pic is possessed is what I'm saying.
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  8. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    lol. that works.
  9. JesseCuster

    JesseCuster Active Member

    It's not definitely goldish and dark white to me and millions of others. The image doing the rounds is unambiguously not "gold and white" to me. It is a dull shade of blue with black or dark grey lace. I was in a room of people when an iPhone was passed around with the image and the room was split roughly 50-50 amongst those who said "gold and white" and those who said "blue and black".
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
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  10. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    thats what i'm saying. i'm on a computer/laptop. ME, being on a laptop with the screen very slightly angled down toward "close' position to help with glare - the dress is definitely goldish and and dark winter white. BUT if i reangle the screen to more of a cell phone position it instantly changes to blue and black, clearly.

    i dont know whats happening on cell phones because i dont have one to experiment. but all the 'experts' commenting on GMA and HP etc are claiming its how "I" perceive color. In my case, it isnt. It's the angle of my computer screen.
  11. mrfintoil

    mrfintoil Active Member

    This might not be the right thread for discussing that darned dress, but I actually did a little material-light test in a 3D program to see if my own theory could be correct.


    So here are four samples under various conditions. The material is a typical cloth/fabric material, with diffuse and lower-glossiness reflective component. The index of refraction is that of typical cloth - ~1.54

    • Sample 1 shows the material under normal exposure conditions. The background is uniformly lit with a neutral grey value, and the white balance is also neutral.
    • Sample 2 shows the same conditions, but overexposured.
    • Sample 3 shows what happens when the white balance is off. Notice how the black details becomes brownish/yellow, and how the added yellow in the blue makes it less saturated, ie. more white.
    • Sample 4 shows exactly the same conditions as sample 3, except the reflective component of the material has been removed.
    My theory was that due to the over exposure of the original image, the reflective component of the real dress became much more visible, and the mixing of the diffuse (the absorbing properties of the material) and reflective component (the light from the surrounding) together with skewed white balance, tinted what otherwise would be perceived as "black and blue" by a normal eye.

    So yeah, cameras can do things that a normal eye wouldn't do. And it has certainly already been stated, but with today's environment of everything-auto we sometimes forget what old processes could offset the result. Or we might become confused when modern technology happens to produce "freak results" such as the photo of the dress.
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  12. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    First, I LOVE illusions...optical, auditory...doesn't matter--always fun!

    And this is obviously a great one because it was so organic...no graphic artist was sitting at
    their iMac for days, tweaking digital "shadows" to create an image that would fool the most people possible.
    This just happened. Yay!

    But after the fun of the initial coolness wore off, my attention shifted to the Interwebs:

    See, I saw it as white & gold...plain as day. :D
    But almost immediately learned that it was really blue & black. Awesome! How fun is that?!?
    Kinda like Criss Angel fooling you, even though you thought you knew what he was up to this time.

    But the 'net reaction was much less fun, to me. In fact, it reminded me of some of the more
    bullheaded people that have shown up here--positive they're right, deeply invested in that rightness,
    immune to reason and belligerent to anyone who doesn't enthusiastically & immediately agree.

    Why do some people get so invested in such trivial things? What struck me as a swell reminder
    of how our senses sometimes play tricks on us, was a threat to some people's sense of self...
    or something...I guess.Bottom line, a shame that something fun became something contentious...
  13. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i haven't seen people arguing about #thedress. but i'm not sure thats a fair analogy. i cant prove it (because even @mrfintoil 's post changes color massively as i move my computer screen... very very cool) but the people who see white(ish) and gold (ish) ARE right. and the people who see blue and black ARE right too.

    i also dont think it's trivial. i love it. for the reasons you posted but also because it never occured to me to consider the iphone or tablet vs computer monitor thing as far as color or maybe even other strange effects.

    i remember the man on the moon standing up and how shocked i was (because i couldnt see a man at all) when i saw a thumbnail of the man (ie little pic like what would be on a phone)- he was clear as day in the thumbnail!

    i think understanding how people can misinterpret things because of different technology devices is an important piece as far as 'debunking'.

    the 'timestamp' glitch is another biggy, as far as it happens on some devices but not other devices. since computer devices are basically so common they have become a 7th sense if you will, i love that people are talking about and questioning what's happening with this dress thing.
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  14. GregMc

    GregMc Senior Member

    Might be of interest and don't know if it's been mentioned in this context but a handy thing when you need to know the actual colour of something you photograph and want to refer to later or match colours is to include a "macbeth" chart in the photo. You can buy them in some photography shops or online or print one out yourself . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ColorChecker. Bit hard to do retrospectively with ladies dresses though!
  15. Freak

    Freak Active Member

    Might not be a bad idea. One of the thoughts I had while looking into this was how it might relate to the colors in the pics of glowing debris at the World Trade Center cleanup and the thread about it here. It might apply to other threads that I'm not aware of as well.
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  16. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i bought a new cheap digital camera. i can't stand it. even if i pick the "low tones" setting i never get anything close to a real life looking pic as far as sky color. makes me crazy.

    lol i just booted up my other computer and saw "the dress" and it was dark blue and black. so heres my two computers side by side... see i'm not crazy. (i blame the geeks - maybe my skies look prettier on the other computer as well... gotta try that.)

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
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  17. Freak

    Freak Active Member

    That dress on the right isn't remotely close to what I was seeing as white and gold.

    I actually wonder if a photo of the screen showing the dress would cause the same perception issues. Does anyone here see the dress as white? Does it look white to you in deirdre's pic (on either side)?

    ETA: I don't think you're crazy, I just don't think you realize what those who see the white dress are actually seeing. It's so far off it's hard to believe.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
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  18. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    why does it look blue and black to you? if i bend my head it does. but the left dress gets real darker too. But looking at "Photos of skies You took" side by side on both computers... HUGE difference in all colors. my graphics card is better in the left computer i dont use for browsing stuff. But now that i know i've been seeing the world all washed out all this time... :(
  19. JesseCuster

    JesseCuster Active Member

    No it isn't "definitely" goldish and dark winter white. I've been viewing the picture on an iMac, a Windows laptop, an iPad, etc. and it doesn't matter what angle I look at the picture at, it's unambiguously blue and black to me no matter how I view the image (the original that is, not the colour corrected versions in articles trying to explain the issue).

    Yet that doesn't happen to me no matter what screen I view it on, or what angle I view it at. So how do you explain the fact that I see it as blue and black no matter what screen I view it on or what angle I view it at?

    Is there something wrong with all the devices I have been viewing it on?
  20. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    dude, i even added the "ME" that time. I'm saying for me on MY computer it IS definitely gold and winter white. *actually its savannah green.. which isnt green its goldish.
  21. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i think its my device. my second computer i see black and blue.
  22. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Does it still look black here? (the colors have not been adjusted, I just cropped it)

    How about here?
  23. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    As an illustration of white balance, I just took this photo from my window. What color is my driveway?

    Here it is again with different settings on the camera. This is what it actually looks like.
  24. JesseCuster

    JesseCuster Active Member

    In both those pics, it looks brown and blue to me. I definitely wouldn't described what I see as blue as any shade of white.

    I should say that I'm not the best judge of colour as I'm (mildly) red-green colourblind and I regularly disagree with the majority of people about what colour things are. Which I think just solidifies the point the hubbub about the dress colour raises about how subjective colour perception really is.
  25. JesseCuster

    JesseCuster Active Member

    My point about people viewing it on an iPhone was that everyone was *definite* that it was either blue and black or white and gold, when viewing it on the same display, implying that it hadn't anything (or very little) to do with the screen it was being viewed on.

    If looking at images at different angles on your computer screen changes very noticeably the colours you're seeing, it sounds like you have a poor quality LCD screen on your computer. Colours fading or looking very different when viewed at different angles other than straight was a horrible flaw of early LCD computer displays and affects some cheap LCD displays these days (I've used a few cheap tablets that had awful colours unless you were looking straight on at the screen).
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  26. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    So now when you look at the original, does it look blue and black?
    View attachment 11707
  27. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    no. i can agree with brown and blue. its a very light baby blue with a grey tint. and a 'coppery' brown.
  28. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    To me the original image always looked "white and gold": on my TV screen, where I saw it for the first time, iPhone 5 and MacBook Pro. I can convince myself that it is actually "blue and black" based on my previous experience - I've taken and seen many photos in which the objects appeared coloured differently than in reality. Or I can alter settings on the external display, so it would appear "blue and black" without nagging my brain.
  29. Faithless

    Faithless New Member

    Just to try and get away from the whole screen/device thing. The picture was printed in a daily paper in the UK. Still has the exact same effect. I saw it white (a slightly off white to be fair) and gold. 2 other people looking at the print saw blue black. I aslo have a friend who sees it as both depending on how she looks at it. Seems her peripheral vision sees it blue/black but when she looks directly at it it goes white/gold. It's funny to watch her utter confusion :)
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  30. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    i can do the peripheral thing pretty much too. i have to kind 'unfocus' my eyes though.

    it is fascinating. i wish i could borrow the eyes of someone seeing black and blue. i do believe the brain plays with color, i've seen it done before. but this is a different situation. In those 'trick color' things, everyone sees the same trick color.

    One factor i wonder is how people describe color. working for a paint decorator for years i know people really do describe colors differently. If you asked me what colors i saw, i wouldnt ever say 'gold', gold was the choice though - black or gold.

    maybe i'll find someone in person someday who sees black and blue and they can show me what 'blue' is on one of my paint charts.
  31. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    Here is another piece on colour perception that hit the world news outlets, including BBC:

    These strawberries are red, right? Wrong
  32. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Moderator Staff Member

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  33. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I think the "no red pixels" thing is a bit misleading there. There's plenty of red in that image, it's just buried under green and blue (i.e. cyan).

    The majority of the information in the image is in the red channel, especially if you focus on a strawberry:
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  34. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    I sort of agree with you on this. The photo probably was modified so that "red" pixels were converted into grey ones by adding to them corresponding amounts of green and blue. There is a discussion about this in the twitter link in the BBC article: pic.twitter.com/PaSxflmGJv

    If the red channel were removed completely, the photo would look like this. No red at all:
  35. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  36. Bfahome

    Bfahome Member

    Eh, phrasing. I don't think of it as misleading; the way I read it is that it's referring to the fact that none of the colors in the image would be called "red" when taken out of context, rather than referring to the specific RGB makeup of the image. Talking about it in terms of pixels does seem to present the claim in a more technical way, but I think that's just shorthand for "no single part of this image would normally be considered red".

    But in the end it's all varying wavelengths of light and color is just a human concept. :p
  37. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    yea but by that logic, no part of the picture LOOKS red red. its more an ashy plum. (in the original tweet)
  38. Bfahome

    Bfahome Member

    Well, "looks" in terms of how our brains interpret the colors unless we're aware of the illusion. Your brain sees something it recognizes (strawberries) that are usually a certain color (red) portrayed in an image that is radically altered to emphasize a different color (blue). So it tries to "correct" the colors back to something it recognizes, and you perceive the berries as red.

    If you take some of the "red" areas and present them as color samples, though:

    … the illusion disappears, because there's nothing tricking your brain anymore.

    (I think it's just a slight disagreement on semantics.)
  39. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    You can make them blue by swapping the red and blue channels. Although the illusion does not work as well.

  40. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    yea there's definitely a color difference (as we see from the rubick's cube ex) when nearby color is removed. But I think Mick's pic would have been a better way to go as your brain would still 'tell you' red, but that happens in all black and white photos as well.

    belwo: seperated berries are from ORIGINAL post (the lower one in my photo). The BBC photo in Trailspotter's post is tweaked to look MUCH more red (guess they didn't think the original berries looked red either)

    3-3-2017 2-31-56 AM.