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The Incredible Morphing Dress

February 27, 2015
The dress is an optical illusion, like the “young lady/old hag
the dress and pixels
Why do some people see the dress as blue and black (which it’s manufacturer has confirmed it is), and some people see it as white and gold? Looking at the same monitor, at the same picture, at the same time?
Well, of course, I have a theory.
My first view of this monstrosity was this morning when I looked at it on my iPhone in my bathroom at my vanity. It was clearly, white and gold.
A little while later, I returned to the same exact spot, same lighting, same device, same brightness setting, same post, the dress now looked light blue and black, but more in the shadowy area.
I was not 100% sure of the origin of the photo. I at first suspected it was a professional photo, and photoshop was involved, but then read that it was a tweet from a 21-year girl. She received the picture of the dress from here Mom, who was trying on the dress for a wedding.
I was thinking that the Mom took the photo with her phone in the dressing room, and the photo contains not only the colors of the dress, but also and opaque layer of whatever was on the opposite wall of the dressing room when the mom took the picture when the flash went off the light was reflected at the same angle it came in and onto the dress,  resulting in a mixed pixel picture.
Print
This would create an “optical illusion” of sorts, whereby the brain of the viewer would be forced to decide which color the object it was viewing actually was, since individual pixels are too hard for your brain to individually define, you want a continuous color.This would explain why some people viewing the same screen in the same lighting would see the dress differently at different times, or two people might see two different dress colors in the same conditions: one person is focusing on blue or black pixels, the other on gold pixels.3. There is some evidence on the web that shows some pixels to be gold and some pixels to be blue. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/weird-news/what-colour-is-the-dress-white-and-gold-or-blue-and-black-an-eyewitness-gives-a-definitive-answer-10074553.html.
4. The human brain likes continuity; depending on what pixels you “zoom” in one, those will be the ones you predominantly become aware of.
There are a lot of other theories like color context, and light adjustment, cone sensitivity, and white balance, but none of them are congruent with the fact that there are actual gold pixels in the photo of the dress itself. This is the only theory so far that explains how that is possible, that I’ve seen.
I tried to replicate this phenomenon below:
The flower below is dark blue and pink (no silver at all, no aqua, no yellow)
I took one picture in very bright sunlight, the other in shadow. I overlay the two, and pulled back the opacity of the top to about 40% to create the optical illusion.
Look at the flower at the bottom of your screen.
Then scroll it to the top of your screen or stand very far away and view it. Does it change color from silver to pink?
Same idea as that dress.
Mystery solved.
what color is this flower
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From → color perception

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