This post gives a physical explanation for the illusion of the Blue-Black or White-Gold Dress, and shows another example of silver pants looking gray, white or purple.
- Is Black and Blue the New White and Gold?
- The Answer
- The Physics behind this Illusion
- The Reason for the Illusion of the Blue-Black or White-Gold Dress
- Another Example of Color Perception: Silver Pants Giving a Purple Illusion
Is Black and Blue the New White and Gold?
Two weeks ago, a dress caused a big discussion on the internet about a striped dress. Is it black and blue or white and gold? Depending on the illumination of the dress people would swear that it is the former or latter color combination.
The dress is actually black and blue. However, when it is illuminated in the right way, it provides the illusion to be white and gold.
The Physics behind this Illusion
The color of light in which the photographer takes the photo of the dress causes the illusion. The brain of people who interpret ambient light as too blue compensates for it. It takes out blue color like a filter in your photo-shop software. Consequently, these people see the dress white and gold. On the contrary, when their brain feels that the ambient light is not blue enough, they perceive the dress as black and blue.
The Reason for the Illusion of the Blue-Black or White-Gold Dress
Obviously, color perception varies among people, and color perception seems to be related to the DNA. Think of color blindness running in a family. What’s the catch?
Another Example of Color Perception: Silver Pants Giving a Purple Illusion
These silver leather pants I am wearing provide a similar illusion effect. I can see them either as silver or gray. While the difference between the two colors (actually silver is not a color from a physics point of view) may be small and more related to shine, a friend of mine calls them purple in artificial light. She then likes these pants. However, when she sees them in natural daylight she will always say “these silver pants are wild!”, read “how can you wear them?!”
Hugrass, L., Slavikova, J., Horvat, M., Al Musawi, A., and Crewther, D., 2017) Temporal brightness illusion changes color perception of ‘‘the dress’’. Journal of Vision, 17(5):6, 1–7, doi:10.1167/17.5.6.
Photos: G. Kramm
© 2013-2022 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved