1492: "Dress color"

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senor_cardgage
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby senor_cardgage » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:15 pm UTC

Sadly, I spent more than two seconds on this.

On my iPhone, I went to the accessibility menu and selected "invert colors" and the dress turned white/gold (with the dark parts becoming white, and the blue parts becoming gold).

Still, this is one of those "I just don't get the internet" things. I hadn't even heard of this controversy (nor do I yet understand why this has become a thing) until this morning, and the first reference I got was someone posting a joke about a "black and blue" car, which was clearly white and gold in the photo. I figured it was a reference to something, I just didn't understand what. Then a few minutes later, someone posted the actual dress color controversy, then a few minutes after that, I check XKCD and get this. So...yeah, I don't get the world. Maybe if actual important, meaningful stuff would get popular on the internet, the world would be a better place.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby bittyx » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:16 pm UTC

Also, the dress is obviously blue and black :D

As for the gold, I can sort of understand how it might appear gold (because the color in the image certainly is such, when you check the RGB value, for example), but my mind immediately compensates that as awful lighting, and I am certain I am seeing black in yellow lighting.

However, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make my brain see the blue as white, even when I attempt to imagine a shadow and force my brain to compensate in that way - it's simply blue, no doubt about it.

Diadem wrote:
Qaanol wrote:The picture making the viral rounds clearly and unambiguously has colors that are, approximately, periwinkle and bronze. If it were under blue light, that would mean the original would be white and gold.

The dress in question doesn’t come in white and gold though. It does come in blue and black, however, which is exactly what you’d expect if the picture were under yellow light. And as it happens, you can look at the background of the viral picture to see that indeed the entire scene is washed with yellow.

I have seen lots and lots of people linking to this 'original dress'. It utterly confuses me. How is that the same dress? Both the shoulders and the lace pattern are completely different.


When you open that link, choose the blue dress color in the upper right (below the price), and it might look more similar. As for the shoulders, I think the dress displayed in the controversial picture also includes a bolero jacket such as this one (again, choose the blue colored product version) - just like the woman in this picture is wearing.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby jovialbard » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:21 pm UTC

I wonder if this is going to spur research that will reveal a mild but pervasive blue colorblindness or sensitivity... maybe related to screen exposure?
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby lordofarda » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:08 pm UTC

AsapSCIENCE just posted a video on youtube explaining this. It is because there isn't enough background context to the image so our brains make assumptions to the lighting and colors. Fascinating stuff.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby regdoug » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:21 pm UTC

I honestly could not see it as black and blue. I saw white and gold without even seeing the question "is this black and blue or white and gold". The first time I saw the question I was very confused as to how it could be anything but white and gold. However, I put it up on a projector during a meeting and it looked black and blue! Very strange.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Jackpot777 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:38 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Yeah, they'll remember the day our understanding of light, perception and psychology was turned on its head. Randall will be seen as a founder of the new era of physics. This very thread will be cited in academic papers for centuries to come. Yes, my friends, we are making history here.

That, or it's just a ridiculously slow news day. Isis, Schmisis.


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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Solarn » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:58 pm UTC

LockeZ wrote:I can't really even understand where the idea that any part of the dress might be black is coming from. Weird lighting and bad exposures could potentially make a white dress look blue, but no amount of bad photography can make black look gold/bronze, can it? Someone will need to explain this one to me.


It can, if the black part is lace (which it is; lace is a very reflective material) and there is a source of yellow light right above or in front of the dress, especially if it then gets put through the colour correction of a shitty phone camera.

Diadem wrote:I have seen lots and lots of people linking to this 'original dress'. It utterly confuses me. How is that the same dress? Both the shoulders and the lace pattern are completely different.

Apart from that: The colors in the photo are clearly gold and white (but a very blueish white). Just blow the picture up with an image editor and you can clearly see that. Of course that hardly tells us anything about the original color, because lighting has so much influence.


The lace pattern is the exact same, accounting for the shitty phone camera, and if you look at it closely (and especially if you see the followup picture in the tumblr link), the shoulder part is actually a completely separate jacket of matching colour that has nothing to do with the dress.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby sam_i_am » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:15 pm UTC

It looked blue and brown to me, and I checked with the MS paint dropper tool, and verified that to be true

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Adam H » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:26 pm UTC

sam_i_am wrote:It looked blue and brown to me, and I checked with the MS paint dropper tool, and verified that to be true

It annoys me that there is any argument to be had here. We know exactly what the RGB values are in the photo, and most people can agree to call these colors blue and brown/gold/bronze.

The actual dress is blue and black, as confirmed by the photographer.

The rest is OPTICAL ILLUSION. Enjoy the power of lighting. If people's perceptions on this are upsetting you, chill out and go stare at an Escher painting for a while.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby jovialbard » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:32 pm UTC

Yeah, but if you look at an Escher painting and are all like "whoa" I can look at it too and be like "whoa" right there with you. Hard as I try I can't see white. It's incredibly blue. I can see the brown tinge at the top, so I get people thinking the dress has a brown or bronze color, but it also looks exactly like a slightly shiny black cloth would look in a bright yellowish light... I just want to be in on the joke, I want to see the old lady, but clearly this is a picture of a young lady, or is it a duck...
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby neremanth » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:39 pm UTC

I think part of why the illusion is so effective is the lighting in the upper right corner. I initially saw this as a bright light situated some way behind and above the dress (with the dress hanging on the end of one of those long racks on wheels, and the black and white fabric at the bottom left of the picture being another garment behind it on the same rack). With the lighting coming from behind, that puts the dress in shadow, and I saw it initially as white and gold. I interpreted there as being some more bright lighting out of shot to the left of the picture, and as far back as the lighting on the upper right, and saw that as illuminating the black and white fabric at the bottom right but not the dress because of the angle it's at to it. (That doesn't actually work out, as I realised when I looked at it for longer, but that's how I saw it to begin with.)

Actually, looking at the photo more and knowing the dress is blue and black, I think that lighting in the upper right is a reflection. I think the dress is not on a wheeled rack, but hanging right in front of a mirror, and the photo's been taken close up with a bright flash, and that light at the upper right is the reflection of the flash. This would mean the dress was not in shadow but very brightly illuminated. But if you interpret the reflection as a light some distance behind, then you're disposed to see it in shadow as described above.

I think these comments support the idea, as they suggest people see the blue and black interpretation more easily when they aren't guided by the lighting in the upper right:

peasncarrots20 on reddit wrote:I scrolled down past the dress. It was white and gold.

I scrolled back up. It was blue and black.

I am currently having a crisis.



Kit wrote:
mathmannix wrote:I cannot see it being black. It is either light blue and brown, or white and brown.

Try to start looking at it from the bottom-left corner of the picture


Andries wrote:To make the duck/rabbit thing happen, just obscure the background in the right side of the dress. The white and gold immediately becomes indubitably blue and black. Interesting.


I'm curious now as to whether the blue/black seers are interpreting the light as a reflection (and the white/gold seers as an actual light). After first seeing it as white and gold, I was also easily able to see it as blue and black (albeit a considerably lighter blue than it actually is), and that was some time before I interpreted the light as a reflection, so that's probably not the whole story, but maybe it's the explanation for some people?

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby JohnMcL7 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:40 pm UTC

jovialbard wrote:Yeah, but if you look at an Escher painting and are all like "whoa" I can look at it too and be like "whoa" right there with you. Hard as I try I can't see white. It's incredibly blue. I can see the brown tinge at the top, so I get people thinking the dress has a brown or bronze color, but it also looks exactly like a slightly shiny black cloth would look in a bright yellowish light... I just want to be in on the joke, I want to see the old lady, but clearly this is a picture of a young lady, or is it a duck...


My thoughts exactly, I love an optical illusion where you're convinced it's one way but can then see another but every time I've seen the picture it never looks white and gold, the black looks a bit off (which I see as purely down to the lighting) but I can never see it as white. I've been through a few explanations and examples but always blue for me.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Angua » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:42 pm UTC

I can not change it from looking white and gold no matter how I try to watch it.

I don't particularly care, though some people get very arrogant about their way being the 'right way'.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby mathmannix » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:43 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:
orthogon wrote:Yeah, they'll remember the day our understanding of light, perception and psychology was turned on its head. Randall will be seen as a founder of the new era of physics. This very thread will be cited in academic papers for centuries to come. Yes, my friends, we are making history here.

That, or it's just a ridiculously slow news day. Isis, Schmisis.


...aaaand then Leonard Nimoy died.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Turkwise » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:50 pm UTC

I really didn't get this comic, because the dress looks exactly the same on both sides to me. Apparently some people see it different? I see white (/very light blue) and gold in the original dress picture.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby speising » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:51 pm UTC

Angua wrote:I can not change it from looking white and gold no matter how I try to watch it.

I don't particularly care, though some people get very arrogant about their way being the 'right way'.

so, what are the colours of the flecked garment to the lower left of it to you, then?

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Angua » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:57 pm UTC

speising wrote:
Angua wrote:I can not change it from looking white and gold no matter how I try to watch it.

I don't particularly care, though some people get very arrogant about their way being the 'right way'.

so, what are the colours of the flecked garment to the lower left of it to you, then?

A brighter white and black.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby neremanth » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:01 pm UTC

With regard to the comic itself, I hadn't seen or heard about the photo, so at first I was just like "what the hell is this about?". When I read the title text and saw the word 'illusion' I realised that the dresses were actually the same colour and the point was they looked different, though I still thought it was a bit random and I had no idea what the thing down the middle was. It was only when I came to the forum that I found out what the reference was. That was also when I found out that the brown part of both dresses was also the same colour - I had thought that the illusion was that the blue parts were the same but looked different, and the different colour browns were part of achieving it. (The browns still look more different to me than the blues.)

Going back to the comic after reading through all the comments on the forum, I think it's actually a brilliant demonstration of how the same colours can look white/gold under one lighting condition and blue/black under another. I think if I'd come to the comic when I was aware of the photo I'd have expected that it would have helped a lot, in that everyone would have been able to see the left panel of the comic as white/gold (or at least light blue/light brown) and the right one as blue/black, and so at least see how both interpretations were possible for the same thing, even if still not everyone could see both in the original photo. I'm kind of surprised that some people see the dress as the same colour in both comic panels; but I guess eyes and brains are funny things, as has been much discussed already. (And confusingly, of course, it's actually those who do see it as the same colour whose eyes and brain are less funny.)

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby FancyHat » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:03 pm UTC

Some of the difficulties some people are having getting the dress to switch colours remind me of the difficulties I sometimes find with photographs of lunar craters. I know they're craters, depressions with raised rims, but sometimes my brain just won't stop seeing them as bumps with round, V-shaped valleys around them. It's not enough to consciously know, at a kind of intellectual level, that they're craters, or that the dress is blue and black. You have to somehow get your brain to know it at a more basic level.

Perhaps this business with the photo of the dress is an example of the distinction between phenomenal consciousness (P-consciousness) and access consciousness (A-consciousness). I access-consciously know that the dress is blue and black (and that it's a darker, fuller blue than I'm perceiving), but I phenomenal-consciously perceive the dress to either be white and gold, or light blue and gold.

This also brings anorexia nervosa to mind, particularly where someone with anorexia nervosa knows, at a kind of intellectual level, that they're underweight, but still perceives themself to be overweight.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby speising » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:05 pm UTC

Angua wrote:
speising wrote:
Angua wrote:I can not change it from looking white and gold no matter how I try to watch it.

I don't particularly care, though some people get very arrogant about their way being the 'right way'.

so, what are the colours of the flecked garment to the lower left of it to you, then?

A brighter white and black.


"brighter white"? white is 255,255,255. it can be a darker shade in a picture, and have a colour cast, but do you have an explanation why the white from the flecks wouldn't have the same shade and cast?

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby jpvlsmv » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:07 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:ETA: One of the more counter-intuitive maths is stat.

Stats is intuitive to those who can count. Only for non-counters is stats counter-intuitive.

And it was very hard in that last sentence to not use "are" instead of "is".

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Angua » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:09 pm UTC

Because I classify more than one shade of thing as being white. Like, the clouds outside atm have bright white rims where the sun is shining through.

Terry Pratchett put it interestingly when he describes Binky as being a 'living white' like milk, rather than the colour you generally have when you describe a horse as white.

Eg, I also manage to classify quite a few different shades as blue, and quite a few different shades as green. There is a cultural phenomenon where you give people lots of squares in varying wavelengths from blue to green and ask them to draw the line where it changes, and that is different for different cultures.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:28 pm UTC

speising wrote:but do you have an explanation why the white from the flecks wouldn't have the same shade and cast?
This is obviously BS because we know it's a terrible photo, but if I was going to guess based off the controversial photo only; I'd say the dress it between the camera and the light source, the couch (or whatever in the lower left) is at a different angle to the light and is illuminated better.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Keyman » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:29 pm UTC

jovialbard wrote:
Keyman wrote:Does the blue/black faction, looking at the original picture, see this blue/black? Or different shades of blue?


Yes, those are the colors I perceived the dress to be the first time I looked at the dress, but washed out by the very bright yellowish light shining down on the dress from above making the colors lighter and shifted toward yellow. And of course lightening black makes it look grey and shifting grey toward yellow makes it look brown, but my mind perceived that lighting effect and interpreted it as those colors.

eta: so the dress looks to be the color light grey to you, which you perceive to be white in a shadow?

Wow. It's really *that* different to you? I guess I should probably say is it that "the same"? Do you see that others can see it as white/gold, or are you as flummoxed and gobsmacked as I am that there is even the hint of a disagreement on something as basic as colors - not shades, etc., but actual colors? I might call it 'ice-white and bronze-ish' but I can't make it be any shade approximating what I can call blue-without-qualifier or black. Again, not what color it 'is' (depending on what 'is' is) but how it can be perceived to be so radically different?
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby CharonPDX » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:48 pm UTC

LockeZ wrote:I can't really even understand where the idea that any part of the dress might be black is coming from. Weird lighting and bad exposures could potentially make a white dress look blue, but no amount of bad photography can make black look gold/bronze, can it? Someone will need to explain this one to me.


Lots of fabric that is advertised as "black" isn't actually 100% pure *BLACK*. Most of it is just "really dark <some color>" To the human eye, it is most certainly "black," even in the brightest light. But that's because our eyes do automatic white balance, and we "know" it is black, so our brains perceive it as black, even if the actual wavelengths of light don't correspond to perfect black. Same with white - look at a piece of paper that you know is white under an outdoor sodium-vapor streetlight, and you perceive it as white still, not the yellowish-tanish that is actually reflecting off the paper to your eyes from the lamp.

For black, I used to have a pet rabbit that was dark as dark can be. His name was "midnight". His fur seemed to ABSORB the light around. To my eye, he was always *BLACK*.
Image
Image

But when in direct sunlight, while to my eye, he was still black, would photograph as brown!
Image
And even a little hint of gold, now that I look again. Zoom in on his hindquarters, and he appears downright gold! Yet he was decidedly black to the naked eye.

The illusion comes from the uncertainty of the dress picture: is it underexposed white/gold, or is it overexposed blue/black? The questions has now been fully answered: overexposed blue/black. But, like many optical illusions, your brain decides on one interpretation, and once you see it, it is hard to un-see. (I'm one of the few who can shift perception back and forth easily in optical illusions. But this one, I saw as blue/black at first, and it is hard for me to shift to be able to see the white/gold. Most illusions, it seem random which 'perception' I see each time I look at it again, this one I see blue/black every time, and have to concentrate to shift it to white/gold.)

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:51 pm UTC

speising wrote:"brighter white"? white is 255,255,255. it can be a darker shade in a picture, and have a colour cast, but do you have an explanation why the white from the flecks wouldn't have the same shade and cast?
Because it's lit differently? The black from the flecks doesn't match the black some people see as gold, either.

The way I've started explaining the illusion is that we're given a picture of this color:
gray.jpg
gray.jpg (2.93 KiB) Viewed 5202 times


And then disagreeing on whether it's the same color as square A or as square B in this picture:
checkershadow_illusion4med.jpg
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby CharonPDX » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:54 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:Since we have Photoshop (for 25 years now) and camera phones (for 14 years), it can be any combination of colors.


Indeed, this dress insanity infiltrated a sports team fandom I'm part of, so I played with the colors to turn the dress in to green and gold (my team's colors.) Wasn't hard, took about two minutes.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby RedwoodRhiadra » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:55 pm UTC

A lot of the "gold/brown" perception is from the black panel at the top of the dress.

Which is SHEER (look at the Roman dress as linked by others). You're seeing the wearer's *skin color* through a partially-transparent black fabric, and lighting makes it even yellower.

(And for the person who complained the Roman dress isn't the right one because of the sleeves - the woman in the original picture is wearing a short jacket over the dress.)

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Sprocket » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:04 pm UTC

Why did I know Randy was going to weigh in on this?
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby neremanth » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:04 pm UTC

RedwoodRhiadra wrote:A lot of the "gold/brown" perception is from the black panel at the top of the dress.

Which is SHEER (look at the Roman dress as linked by others). You're seeing the wearer's *skin color* through a partially-transparent black fabric, and lighting makes it even yellower.

(And for the person who complained the Roman dress isn't the right one because of the sleeves - the woman in the original picture is wearing a short jacket over the dress.)


...Wait, do you see someone in the dress in the original photo>? That's got to be the strangest illusion yet.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Angua » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:08 pm UTC

Keyman wrote:
Now this is purportedly the actual dress....
Image
(coincidentally posted under a comment from "llamaswill")

Does the blue/black faction, looking at the original picture, see this blue/black? Or different shades of blue?

I'm not sure which Roman dress they were linking, but this is apparently a picture of it being worn to the wedding in question.

I didn't think it looked like it was being worn in the original picture.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:10 pm UTC

No, the original picture looked like the dress and jacket were on a hanger together.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Sprocket » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:11 pm UTC

I just heard about this moments ok on NPR.
So clearly I had no fucking idea what they were talking about or where this thing originated.

Anyway, yeah this seems rather silly and I'm still kind of confused.

I get the white-balance difference, but I think of white balance as a setting on a camera, one single image should be the same...so is this just a matter of what monitor settings people are using?
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Eutychus » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:11 pm UTC

SuperCow wrote:Also, this strip makes me curious about how Randall works. Clearly he couldn't have created it prior to the day before it was posted, as the subject matter in question didn't exist yet.


Unless... (cue conspiracy theory music) (may be relevant)
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:20 pm UTC

Sprocket wrote:so is this just a matter of what monitor settings people are using?
No, people looking at the same image, on the same monitor, from the same culture will disagree of what colors the picture is.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:21 pm UTC

SuperCow wrote:Also, this strip makes me curious about how Randall works. Clearly he couldn't have created it prior to the day before it was posted, as the subject matter in question didn't exist yet.

Does he create all of his strips the day before their posting? Or, does he have a backlog of strips created ahead of time, and only interrupts the sequence with timely strips when some cultural event occurs that he deems strip-worthy?
My guess would be this was a simple enough one to bang out on short notice when the phenomenon exploded yesterday, but that there was already a comic done or at least started that was originally going to post today.

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
Sprocket wrote:so is this just a matter of what monitor settings people are using?
No, people looking at the same image, on the same monitor, from the same culture will disagree of what colors the picture is.
Yeah, there definitely is some real difference in how people's brains are processing the image.

(However it is interesting to hear from people who see it totally differently on different screens.)
Last edited by gmalivuk on Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:24 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Turkwise » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:23 pm UTC

Okay, my brain just broke. I was scrutinizing the Amazon pictures (which shows a good picture of the black-and-blue dress) and changed the tab to the controversial dress picture and suddenly I was seeing black and blue instead of white and gold. What just happened? A flipped switched somewhere in my brain, but I still see the comic as being the same color on both sides. The picture, though, looks completely different now. :shock: I see a much darker shade of blue and the gold isn't nearly as pronounced.

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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:25 pm UTC

Turkwise wrote:I still see the comic as being the same color on both sides.
How about A and B in the checkerboard image I posted earlier?
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby Sprocket » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:30 pm UTC

:( I just wish I could make it change...but I'm pretty consistent. I can make the spinning dancer rotate counter clockwise without TOO much effort. I can easily get a light pale blue out of it, but the gold/tan/whatever remains gold.

Angua wrote:
Keyman wrote:
Now this is purportedly the actual dress....
Spoiler:
Image

(coincidentally posted under a comment from "llamaswill")

Does the blue/black faction, looking at the original picture, see this blue/black? Or different shades of blue?

I'm not sure which Roman dress they were linking, but this is apparently a picture of it being worn to the wedding in question.

I didn't think it looked like it was being worn in the original picture.

Now that is clearly blue.

I'm dubious because holding a white piece of paper up to the original dress image changes NOTHING. having something blatantly white right next to it does not reveal a stark contrast in what I see.
Last edited by Sprocket on Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:44 pm UTC, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 1492: "Dress color"

Postby speising » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:35 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
speising wrote:"brighter white"? white is 255,255,255. it can be a darker shade in a picture, and have a colour cast, but do you have an explanation why the white from the flecks wouldn't have the same shade and cast?
Because it's lit differently? The black from the flecks doesn't match the black some people see as gold, either.

The way I've started explaining the illusion is that we're given a picture of this color:
gray.jpg


And then disagreeing on whether it's the same color as square A or as square B in this picture:
checkershadow_illusion4med.jpg

yeah, sure, but the difference in the blue from the dress and the white from the flecked thing is far to great, and they are right next to each other, so why should they be lighted that differently?
the difference in the black otoh is easily explained by the different fabrics.
Last edited by speising on Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:39 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.


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