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What color do you see?
I see a blue dress 37%  37%  [ 7 ]
I see a white dress 26%  26%  [ 5 ]
I can see it both ways 37%  37%  [ 7 ]
Total votes : 19
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 Post Post subject: What color is the dress??
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:04 pm 
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You're probably sick of hearing about The Dress by now, I was before I fully understood the story, but bear with me because this is in fact something that truly deserves posting about. You just have to get past all the stupid drama that has hijacked the story. The photo iself is actually very significant, the fallout from it is just clouding why.
Let's throw away all the distracting and annoying theatrics surrounding this and go through just the meaningful parts of the story.

A wedding guest was looking at a photo she had taken of a blue dress someone had been wearing when a friend remarked that they saw a photo of a white dress. Disturbed by this, she posted the photo online and asked people what color they saw. Some said blue, some said white, and a war erupted across the internet.
That was where a lot of the media coverage went, and it soured people on the topic, which is disappointing because that isn't what the story here is. The people having dumb fights was a sideproduct, the actual story is in why the fights originated. There is a fascinating biological phenomenon at work here.

Here is the photo:

Image

If you see a blue dress with black fringe you're wondering what in the world all the fuss is about.
But many people, including myself, see a white dress with gold fringe.
What is going on here?

It turns out this photo happened to capture a rare combination of elements which result in an image that doesn't project a definite color to the viewer. The particular style of this dress, when combined with the specific lighting of this photo, allows the individual brain of each person to decide which color to "see" in the image.

So what color is the dress really? It is blue and black. Here is a photo of one that doesn't mess with the brain:

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And here is another photo of the same dress in question from that same day:

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When you look at this photo, or if you saw the dress in real life, you should see it for what it is. But the specific lighting in the original photo just happened to be exactly right to leave the colors up to individual interpretation.

So the people who said the dress is white were wrong, because it is in fact blue, but they weren't incorrect, because they genuinely did see white. To get super technical, they should have said "I see a white dress" rather than "The dress is white" to be completely correct, but why would they have thought to make that distinction? This is an incredibly rare occurrence, the elements of the photo just happened to be exactly right to produce this ambiguous image. No one looking at it would think to consider it wasn't showing what they were seeing; that's just not something you question.

This gif adjusts the white balance of the image so that everyone should be able to see it both ways (first blue, then white):

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Likewise this image directly contrasts the original image (center) with one that has been balanced to a level that should force white (left) and one that should force blue (right):

Image

Now you can understand what each side has been seeing, and why they're so sure the other is crazy.

This image, captured by pure chance, is an incredible thing! This is a concrete example of how the brain determines what colors to show us and why some people interpret some colors differently. That's usually something you can only think about in theory, but people can actually see it here.

This is a good article that gives straightforward information on the real story without going into the pointless drama too much, and provides a scientific yet very clear and understandable explanation of why the color choice happens:
Quote:
Friends and co-workers worldwide are debating the true hues of a royal blue dress with black lace that, to many an eye, transforms in one photograph into gold and white. Experts are calling the photo a one-in-a-million shot that perfectly captures how people's brains perceive color and process contrast in dramatically different ways.

"This photo provides the best test I've ever seen for how the process of color correction works in the brain,'" said Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, the clinical adviser to Britain's College of Optometrists. "I've never seen a photo like before where so many people look at the same photo and see two sets of such dramatically different colors."

The photo, taken earlier this month before a wedding on the remote Scottish island of Colonsay, also illustrates the dynamics of a perfect social-media storm. Guests at the wedding could not understand why, in one photo of the dress being worn by the mother of the bride, the clearly blue and black-striped garment transformed into gold and white. But only in that single photo, and only for around half of the viewers.

The debate spread from the wedding to the Internet, initially from friend to perplexed friend on Facebook.
One such wedding guest, musician and singer Caitlin McNeill, posted the photo Thursday night to her Tumblr account with the question: "Guys please help me. Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can't agree and we are freaking the (expletive) out." She's consistently seen gold.
One of her friends, Alana MacInnes, saw gold and white for the first hour, then black and blue.

...

The answer, says Hardiman-McCartney, is that every viewer seeing either set of colors is right.
He says the exceptional bar-code style of the dress, combined with the strongly yellow-toned backlighting in the one photo, provides the brain a rare chance to "choose" which of the dress' two primary colors should be seen in detail.
Those who subconsciously seek detail in the many horizontal black lines convert them to a golden hue, so the blue disappears into a blown-out white, he said.
Others whose brains focus on the blue part of the dress see the photo as the black-and-blue reality.

"There's no correct way to perceive this photograph. It sits right on the cusp, or balance, of how we perceive the color of a subject versus the surrounding area," he said. "And this color consistency illusion that we're experiencing doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your eyes. It just shows how your brain chooses to see the image, to process this luminescence confusion."

The photo produced a deluge of media calls Friday to the Tumblr reporter, 21-year-old McNeill, who calls the seemingly endless phone calls "more than I've received in the entirety of the rest of my life combined." She says the photographer, who is also the mother of the bride, never wanted the publicity.

There's one clear winner: English dress retailer Roman Originals, which has reported a million hits on its sales site in the first 18 hours following the photo's worldwide distribution.
"I can officially say that this dress is royal blue with black lace trimming," said Michele Bastock, design director at Roman Originals.

She said staff members had no idea that the dress, when shot in that singularly peculiar light, might be perceived in a totally different color scheme. Not until Friday anyway, when they arrived at work to field hundreds of emails, calls and social media posts. They, too, split almost 50-50 on the photo's true colors.

All agreed, however, the dress for the Birmingham, England-based retailer was likely to become their greatest-ever seller. The chain's website Friday headlined its product as "#TheDress now back in stock - debate now."
This article goes into detailed analysis of the colors:
Quote:
The fact that a single image could polarize the entire Internet into two aggressive camps is, let’s face it, just another Thursday. But for the past half-day, people across social media have been arguing about whether a picture depicts a perfectly nice bodycon dress as blue with black lace fringe or white with gold lace fringe. And neither side will budge. This fight is about more than just social media—it’s about primal biology and the way human eyes and brains have evolved to see color in a sunlit world.

Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors. The light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments fire up neural connections to the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes those signals into an image. Critically, though, that first burst of light is made of whatever wavelengths are illuminating the world, reflecting off whatever you’re looking at. Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object. “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance,” says Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington. “But I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.” (Neitz sees white-and-gold.)

Usually that system works just fine. This image, though, hits some kind of perceptual boundary. That might be because of how people are wired. Human beings evolved to see in daylight, but daylight changes color. That chromatic axis varies from the pinkish red of dawn, up through the blue-white of noontime, and then back down to reddish twilight. “What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.” (Conway sees blue and orange, somehow.)

We asked our ace photo and design team to do a little work with the image in Photoshop, to uncover the actual red-green-blue composition of a few pixels. That, we figured, would answer the question definitively. And it came close.
In the image as presented on, say, BuzzFeed, Photoshop tells us that the places some people see as blue do indeed track as blue. But... that probably has more to do with the background than the actual color. “Look at your RGB values. R 93, G 76, B 50. If you just looked at those numbers and tried to predict what color that was, what would you say?” Conway asks.
So... kind of orange-y?
“Right,” says Conway. “But you’re doing this very bad trick, which is projecting those patches on a white background. Show that same patch on a neutral black background and I bet it would appear orange.” He ran it through Photoshop, too, and now figures that the dress is actually blue and orange.

The point is, your brain tries to interpolate a kind of color context for the image, and then spits out an answer for the color of the dress. Even Neitz, with his weird white-and-gold thing, admits that the dress is probably blue. “I actually printed the picture out,” he says. “Then I cut a little piece out and looked at it, and completely out of context it’s about halfway in between, not this dark blue color. My brain attributes the blue to the illuminant. Other people attribute it to the dress.”

Even WIRED’s own photo team—driven briefly into existential spasms of despair by how many of them saw a white-and-gold dress—eventually came around to the contextual, color-constancy explanation. “I initially thought it was white and gold,” says Neil Harris, our senior photo editor. “When I attempted to white-balance the image based on that idea, though, it didn’t make any sense.” He saw blue in the highlights, telling him that the white he was seeing was blue, and the gold was black. And when Harris reversed the process, balancing to the darkest pixel in the image, the dress popped blue and black. “It became clear that the appropriate point in the image to balance from is the black point,” Harris says.

So when context varies, so will people’s visual perception. “Most people will see the blue on the white background as blue,” Conway says. “But on the black background some might see it as white.” He even speculated, perhaps jokingly, that the white-gold prejudice favors the idea of seeing the dress under strong daylight. “I bet night owls are more likely to see it as blue-black,” Conway says.

After studying the image a lot, I can actually bring myself to see it both ways. If I'm just looking at it regularly I see white, but if I look at it through my fingers or some other way that allows me to focus exclusively on the dress it changes to blue. So for me it seems it's a combination of the light in the background of the photo and the background of the screen that the image is displayed on that gets me. All together, the visual tricks me into seeing white. If I cut all that out and look just at the dress itself, I can see the true image.

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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:46 pm 
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I guess you could say I see it both ways. But the fringe always looks gold or a brownish/ugly mustard color to me. I first said the dress looks white.... because to me it looks like a white dress (in horrible lighting) with a blue color cast on it. Even in the darkest photo, I still say the dress looks white.. with again, a blue color cast on it.

I also cannot believe that the real color of the dress is that dark of a blue.... seems like a hoax or something to me (or photoshop). Or I just REALLY can't get my brain to comprehend it. Because it just doesn't seem possible at all that dark blue can look that lightly colored. In all my picture taking (and editing years).. that is just not possible... at least from my experience. Blue just doesn't turn SUPER LIGHT blue, to basically white looking.

Again though, maybe it is just my brain. But I'm not really buying it. =p I also think everyone really is seeing the SAME colors, but it's just a matter of how we 'define' those colors. I asked Anemone what she saw, and she immediately said, "blue and black" ..and I was like WHATTT... because I thought I was going crazy. But after getting her to describe the colors more specifically we both agreed that we saw a brownish/geyish fringe and a very light blue dress. So, Anemone sees what I see, but she just defines the colors differently (i.e. she defines the brownish color as black, and I, gold).

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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:57 pm 
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Now that I've seen it both ways I have become able to see it as either white or blue without having to look through my fingers, I can change what I see by changing how I focus on it. As someone in the Chatroom said when we were discussing this in there, it's like that optical illusion with the vase and the faces, once you get the 'trick' down you can make yourself see either one.

I agree about the shade though; even when I see it as blue it's not as dark as the true color. But I credit that to the fact that as my natural interpretation is white, I'm not 'really' seeing the blue, I'm making myself see blue, so it's not going to be the real shade I should be seeing. If you know what I mean.

And I also agree about the white. I have never seen the image as a pure white and gold, I see a darkened white, as if a shadow is falling on it, and a more mustard fringe than shiny gold. I now know that's because I'm picking up the faintest presence of the true blue coming through and it's darkening the image trying to get me to recognize it, but if I didn't know that I would just think, as I said, there was a shadow on it. Which is why, again, no one thinks to question what they're seeing here. I'm not going to think 'That's not quite white, I wonder if that's because another color is coming through' I'm going to think 'That's a bad picture that is darkening the white' because I'm naturally assuming the dominant color that comes through to me as being the correct one.

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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:59 pm 
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I showed my mother the photo and she said she saw white and gold like me, but then my sister showed her the photo when is was brightened and when it as darkened and then we showed her the original photo and she said she saw black and blue. She didn't believe that we were showing her the same one that she thought was white and gold. However, even after seeing the darkened and brightened photo next to the original I cannot see the original one as black and blue.

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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:12 pm 
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I'm sure there's lots of theories going around, but personally I think that the white balance on computer screens is slightly blue-tinted, making a poorly-lighted photograph of blue appear to be, in fact, white (and perhaps a similar explanation applies for the black to yellow transition?). I honestly don't have much idea what I'm talking about, this just was the first thing that came to mind and seemed like a possible explanation.

I personally have seen it so much that I can kind of see it both ways at once.


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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:14 am 
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I want so much to see white and gold, but no such luck...

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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:12 pm 
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Try imagining that it is a picture of something in a dark shadow. It might help.


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 Post Post subject: Re: What color is the dress??
Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:43 am 
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Nope, looked all the darker for it...

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