Jeff Greenhouse

Experienced Marketing & Analytics Executive

How I Flipped My Brain's View of the Black and Blue Dress

How I Flipped My Brain's View of the Black and Blue Dress

The Internet pretty much went crazy today (or at least everybody on it THOUGHT they were crazy) when everyone looked at the same photo and half saw a white/gold dress while the other half saw a blue/black dress.

Here's how I flipped my brain to go from the "white/gold" camp to the "blue/black" camp, along with what I think is going on.

After reading a half dozen articles and theories about the dress, and still ONLY seeing the white/gold version myself, I did what any self-respecting designer would do. I grabbed the image and pulled it into Photoshop.

The Secret of the Blue and Black Dress

After some quick dragging of the eyedropper tool, I confirmed that the pixels of the main area of the dress ARE blue, but they are a very light, washed out blue. On the other hand, the "fringe" areas come up as a medium gray that is tinted towards orange.

Not incredibly conclusive, UNTIL you realize that the exposure of the photo is compensating for some serious backlighting, and that backlighting is bleeding around the edge of the person in the form of a major lens flare (see the big arrow in the upper right of the image above. This means that very warm yellow/orange light is filtering in from around the person and blending in with the original colors of the dress, washing them out, warming them up and creating the illusion of a white/gold dress under "cool" evening lighting.

The funniest part of all of this is that as soon as I figured it out, I suddenly saw ONLY the blue and black dress. I basically won the argument with the part of my brain that originally thought the dress was white. And yes, I still think I'm half crazy!

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