#TheDress Explained

Why do we see this photo of a dress as either blue and black or white and yellow? How was this strange optical illusion created? And how can I see it as blue and black or white and yellow? Here's how #TheDress Confused Everyone. #TheDress Explained. Now, there’s already a ton of videos and articles about #TheDress, and while most of the explanations involve perception (and, yes, that is a huge part of why everyone is tripping out), it doesn't explain how this photograph came to be. In addition, I’ve read some articles where I don’t find their explanations to be satisfactory, or complete, So I wanted to jump on a quick video to explain why I think there is a little bit more to the story. Now, the majority of the reactions to this photograph were “what are you even talking about? This dress is clearly blah blah blah blah” And It’s pretty hard to imagine the dress in being any other color. Personally, I had a similar experience. I opened up the photo, looked at it, and without really reading any of the comments, I thought that the dress was blue and brown. I didn’t really understand what the fuss was about, until I opened it again later that day, after people were sending me that link, and every single person was commenting about this dress, and I started freaking out because I saw white and gold. I checked that it was the same image, not some photoshopped image, and sure enough it was the same thing. And then I went on to read ten thousand articles about this dress. But why do we see the dress as different colors? And why is it one way or the other? If you’ve seen some of my other videos, you might already have an idea of what’s going on. It’s has to do with perception. Depending on certain assumptions your brain makes, you see one way or the other. People in the white and gold camp read as the dress being lit from behind, and there is a blue shadow casted on to the dress. Our brain compensates by telling us, “Oh this is a blue shadow on top, so the actual object is not as blue.” But in actuality the object is lighter and warmer, giving us white and gold. People in the blue and black camp, which according to this Buzzfeed poll, are clearly have a different experience when viewing this photo. Now, here’s where I see a lot of explanations that I do not quite agree with. Posts where people are taking swatches the from photo and posting hex codes, and arguing “this proves that the dress is blah blah blah”, isn’t a good explanation. It’s not the object that you’re taking a swatch from, but a photograph. And the photograph itself is badly taken, it’s not good quality, it’s not well hit, it’s not color balanced. So that’s a waste of time. I’ve also seem explanations that there is a really, really, really strong yellow light, And that’s why it appears lighter than the actually blue and black. I don’t think is a complete answer. It just isn't how a camera would work. Really, what I think this shows is that the smartphone taking the picture isn’t perfect, and this photo clearly demonstrates that. I still love you though. We might take it for granted today because we have these fancy digital auto-everything cameras, but taking a photo isn't simply capturing a scene. I mean, it is, but there’s a lot going on behind it. When you take a photo on your smartphone, it will do a bunch of different things in attempt to make the photo look good. That means adjusting a bunch of different things, including the lighting, the brightness, the contrast, saturation, your white balance. When the object is too dark in that specific scene, a lot of times what will happen is that the digital camera will artificially boost that brightness, so that the object can show up. That, I think is what led it to this strange mutilated image that internet is now freaking out about. What I suspect is that this person was trying to take a photo of the dress in a not so well lit room. When you have a brighter background and a not well lit object or a darker object - in this case the dress is both not well lit and a dark blue and black color - What will happen is that the object becomes backlit. It’s really hard for the camera to read details on the object itself. While our eyes are really good at focusing, adjusting brightness and colors automatically without us thinking about it, a camera can have a bit more difficulty. Particularly when you have the both ends of the spectrum in the same frame: something really, really bright, and something really, really dark. What your automatic digital camera will do, is that they’ll favor one over the other. It will favor whatever they think is the subject (whether its auto detecting or you selecting that object as the subject) and it will do all the things I mentioned earlier, but prioritizing that subject. In certain conditions it works really well, in others, not so much. Sometimes (or a lot of the times) it gets a bit confused. Probably, what happened was when they tried to photograph the dress, they notices that the dress was too dark to see any details. So what do you do? You tap that! On your phone.. you tap.. your screen… So your phone goes, “Ok, now I know this is important to you, I’m going to try my best so that it shows up in the photo.” So it lightens the whole image, which you can tell from the blown out white background, and then does something interesting. And then it tried to white balance and thought that the blue was actually white. White balance is a really important function in the camera that basically makes colors appears as they should. It makes white look white, and then it shifts all the colors along so that they’re the right color. So you don’t have images where things are slightly tinted blue or yellow. When the phone software tries to do something so funky, like adjusting the white balance to a blue color, a bunch of weird things will happen, like it will lighten up the entire image, and then it will shift all these cooler colors to a warmer color. (Which is why you see things like the black color, which is already lightened up to gray, shift into a warm brown) and so on. So if your brain read the photo as overly exposed and washed out, your brain can compensate by increasing that saturation and darkening the image so that you see a blue and black dress. And that, my friends, is how a confused phone managed to freak the heck out of the internet.


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