Amazingly, some people see this dress as blue with black trim, while others see it as white with gold trim. How about you?
Last week, an interesting meme went viral across the Internet. A woman whose Tumblr screen name is swiked posted a photo of a dress
and wrote, "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 f**k out." Despite her poor grammar and coarse language, her question is a fascinating one for those of us concerned with color perception, which includes all AVS members with even a passing interest in video.
It seems that different people see very different colors when they look at this particular photo—some see a blue dress with black trim, while others see a white dress with gold trim. How can this be? It is well known that the human visual system includes many processing steps that can vary between individuals, but I would have thought that differences in the perception of a given stimulus would be subtle, not as wildly different as in this particular example.
Since the photo first appeared, several explanations of this strange phenomenon have been posted; for example, see the articles on Wired.com
. Basically, it seems to come down to the way the dress is illuminated in the photo, or alternatively, how the photo is white-balanced. Our brain determines—or, perhaps more accurately, guesses—the color of the light illuminating the object we are looking at. Using that information, the brain determines the color of the object, which becomes our conscious perception.
In this case, the color of the illumination (or the white balance of the photo) happens to be on a cognitive boundary where the brain can come to one of two very different conclusions about the color of the dress. Even more interesting, some people see it both ways, switching between them at different times.
The photo at the top of this thread is taken directly from swiked's Tumblr post, copied and repeated to end up with a horizontally oriented image. Do you see a blue dress with black trim, a white dress with gold trim, or something else? Or do you see it differently at different times?
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