Patterico's Pontifications

2/26/2015

Reader Poll: What Color Is This Dress?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:20 pm

My daughter showed me this image today (taken from this Tumblr post) and asked me what two colors the dress was. Before you go any further, look at the image and answer the poll. Then click on “more” for the rest of the post.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.12.24 PM

What color is this dress?
Gold and white
Black and blue
Something else

Poll Maker

I gave one of the above answers, and she agreed, and then she told me that a bunch of people on the Internet said it was the other two colors.

I thought that maybe people were running some kind of weird Internet experiment where they lied about the colors for an unknown reason. Then we asked my son, and he answered the other set of colors.

Apparently a significant percentage of sensible people say it is one thing (gold and white), and another significant percentage are insane and say something different (blue and black).

Utterly bizarre.

Here are a couple of links that try to make sense of it (and, in my opinion, fail).

By the way, as the links show, apparently the original dress is . . . blue. (?)

UPDATE: TIME literally has a piece called Taylor Swift Says The Dress is Black and Blue. You can learn what a bunch of other vapid celebrities think, too.

My guarantee to you: by close of business tomorrow, some reporter will have asked Obama: “Gold and white or black and blue?” Guarantee.

98 Responses to “Reader Poll: What Color Is This Dress?”

  1. If you answer “other” then please tell us what the “other” is.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. I already have one person answering blue and black.

    Really?

    HOW?!!?!!?!?!

    Patterico (9c670f)

  3. I see blue and black. And the explanation is here, starting at 21 seconds in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3unPcJDbCc

    Your computer screen does not reflect light off a picture or a tangible object (like a fish for instance). It emits light. Like shining a flashlight in your eyes. That’s the essence of it.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. I see it as blue with gold trim. Not even close, really.

    Morgen (9e6647)

  5. BTW, my previous comment is black text on a light blue background with the links (mine and the commment time stamp) bright indigo/sky blue.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. I opened the image in GIMP and took a look at the colors.

    The “White” of the dress is blueish-white. I think that’s an artifact of the dress being backlit.

    The “Gold” parts are definitely gold. HTML Color #7f7048

    Xmas (f65ded)

  7. I opened the image in GIMP and took a look at the colors.

    The “White” of the dress is blueish-white. I think that’s an artifact of the dress being backlit.

    The “Gold” parts are definitely gold. HTML Color #7f7048

    Yeah, I see bluish parts in the white.

    So we’re right!

    Yay!

    Patterico (9c670f)

  8. BTW, my previous comment is black text on a light blue background with the links (mine and the commment time stamp) bright indigo/sky blue.

    Blue background? It’s beige/gray.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  9. Team white and gold!

    I also conducted a highly scientific experiment wherein I held the picture up to my cat. The cat is black and white, and let me tell you, nothing on that dress looks like the black part of his fur. The white part of the dress is more blue than his paws, but it’s not, you know, blue.

    bridget (37b281)

  10. Not to me. Very light powder blue, alternating to off-white for the next comment.

    Same for my Samsung Note as for Toshiba Satellite. Those are my color schemes that I chose way back when I was setting up Preferences. What’s so complicated? Your computer does not have a picture in it that the ambient light bounces off. It gets a stream of electrons and your graphics card interprets them the way it’s programmed to. Some (programming) from the factory, some by you.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. We’d need the dress, or an old-fashioned Kodak of it, to check whether my graphics card is “lying” to me or yours is “lying” to you.

    nk (dbc370)

  12. What does it mean when it was initially gold and white, but has now changed to blue and brown?

    ParisParamus (194d44)

  13. Okay, so originally when I voted about 3 minutes ago, it was gold and white. I refreshed screen and now it’s blue and black.

    And I have not been drinking tonight.

    Dana (86e864)

  14. The first time I looked at the photo it was gold and white (with a bluish cast to the white), then looked at the other photos on a different link which showed that the original dress was black and blue. Then re-looked at the original image which then looked blue and black. Now don’t see the gold and white anymore. Really bizarre.

    cardio np (de0c0b)

  15. When I first saw it, it looked gold and white. Then I saw the pictures showing that the original dress was blue, and then when I came back to this picture, it was still gold and white. Then I refreshed the screen, and all of a sudden it was . . . still gold and white.

    I don’t see how people can see blue and black. I really don’t. It’s so weird to me.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  16. Um maybe we can have a model take the dress on and off under different lighting scenarios?

    steveg (794291)

  17. Maybe this will help. Pictures on a computer are not images. They’re memory. Electronic pulses analogous to the memory in our brain. They have three components — intake, storage, and retrieval. Any one of those can alter the original image. For this picture, I think our respective computers are struggling with retrieval, or if you wish interpretation of the retrieval, to an image acceptable to us. Like a language interpreter trying to remember and translate to you in English what that witness said a moment ago in Spanish.
    ?

    nk (dbc370)

  18. Alright, that doesn’t explain why you and your daughter see one thing and your son another. Never mind.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. None of the color emits stuff is correct.

    Four of us at dinner looked at the dress from one iPad. Passed it around the table. Split 2-2. Nothing one said could convince the gold/ white they were absolutely and utterly colorblind and wrong!

    Sunny (b47ecd)

  20. I just checked on my ipad – gold and white. PC – blue and black.

    Dana (86e864)

  21. I could not determine the colors as the picture as displayed on my laptop screen was not of high enough resolution and not clear enough to tag it with a color. I could see some bluish white or could have been greyish white and the other color definitely wasn’t what I would call black. It looked more tan/light brown to me. As these choices weren’t offered, I voted ‘Something Else.’

    Bill M (906260)

  22. Hub and I looked at same ipad: he sees gold and white, and I am still seeing blue and black. Could the sexes be seeing it one way and not the other…

    Dana (86e864)

  23. Pat, are you messin’ with us again???? After I responded, I went back to the picture and now I see more blue, but still no black. I think I need a drink!

    Bill M (906260)

  24. I have one eye that’s the way I was born with and one with a retinal repair, two buckles, and an artificial lens. They each show blue and black.

    I’m starting to think that our computers create illusions that are perceived differently by different viewers. Seriously. That’s “emit” illusions too, Sunny.

    nk (dbc370)

  25. UPDATE: TIME literally has a piece called Taylor Swift Says The Dress is Black and Blue. You can learn what a bunch of other vapid celebrities think, too.

    My guarantee to you: by close of business tomorrow, some reporter will have asked Obama: “Gold and white or black and blue?” Guarantee.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  26. Racists

    Patterico (9c670f)

  27. I would have said powder blue with black-edged gold trimmings, myself. I think people saying white are over-compensating for the appearance of the dress being in shadow against the brightly lit background.

    The Sage (ba2a4c)

  28. So viral that it’s got on xkcd already.

    The Sage (ba2a4c)

  29. Blue and yellow are complementary colors right? And so are white and black?

    It goes back to the computer screen generating only red, green and blue. The colors we “see” are only implied from where they fall on a color wheel defined by those three points. Our brain guesses them. Here, some people guess blue and black others guess yellow and white.

    I’m betting this is the right answer.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. I am wondering where on the planet it was April 1st yesterday …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  31. … and why was our revered and esteemed bloghost there and then posting this post ?

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  32. There is some sort of dark magic is at work here. On the page it’s white and gold. Click on it an open it in it’s own window, and now it’s black and blue.

    I’m betting this is some sort of cool techno hoax, where the image changes when you least expect it.

    Or, you know, just kind of evil.

    Steve B (867a1f)

  33. my first reaction was tan , but when i saw gold as a choice i wavered.
    and light blue.

    seeRpea (188f90)

  34. i just popped the photo into irfanView and viewed it full screen.
    Changing my answer to Tan and Silver .

    seeRpea (188f90)

  35. Is this a test for whether a person is color blind?

    In my browser, that dress looks gold and white.

    Mark (c160ec)

  36. it is a very nice dress

    but it will not help with the denazification of the internet once the failmerican FCC gestapo are in full swing

    but it is a very nice dress

    happyfeet (831175)


  37. The Science is Settled

    also fun watching the change as my mouse hovers over the triple image link to the jpeg.

    seeRpea (188f90)

  38. Let’s try this on smurfs next.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  39. Is this the dress Mcconnell wears?
    His face should be black and blue.

    mg (31009b)

  40. A question for the blue and black people. What color is the dress you can partially see in the lower left edge of the picture?

    Xmas (f65ded)

  41. Btw folks, this is why digital cameras have all those fancy settings for white balance and ambient lighting. The picture was taken in a dark room with an incadescent light BEHIND the dress. The poor camera thought the blue dress (yes, I saw the other photo, its a blue dress) was white and recalculated all the other color values to match that value of “white”.

    I’m thinking those that are seeing blue and black have trained themselves by looking at lots of crappy cell phone pictures.

    Xmas (f65ded)

  42. Oh. I get it. http://www.wired.com/2015/02/science-one-agrees-color-dress/ (posted previous)

    Rendering errors and bias. No one printed out a copy of the image.

    The gold/white crowd is seeing the black as gold and the blue as white. Black and gold pair well, and in harsh, strong light the material will reflect the light even if the material is black, giving it a gold tinge.

    Blue and white also have a unique relation – white will appear brighter and bolder if it is given a slightly blue tinge. Here, a lot of people are seeing a harshly-lit, washed out blue and seeing “white with bluish tinge.”

    In short, the white/gold crowd is seeing the glare hitting the dress more than the color of the dress itself.

    JWB (6cba10)

  43. The dress is about as dark blue as the lettering in the Patterico logo at the top of this web page.

    If you are seeing that color of blue in the picture, I gotta tell you that there is no blue that deep in the image.

    Xmas (f65ded)

  44. it was white and gold earlier this morning now it’s blue and gold

    this is clearly the work of satan

    happyfeet (831175)

  45. O-kaaay…
    Definitely, positively goldy-tan and white, with maybe a hint of blue in the white bits.
    I click through to the Vice article.
    At the top are pictures of someone holding hardcopy of the picture. Goldy-tan and white.
    Scroll down to more pictures. The same.
    Scroll down to the “as it originally appeared” picture of someone wearing a fairly dark blue dress with black trim. Yup, that’s black and blue all right.
    Look back at the first picture. WTF??? Now it’s Patterico-masthead blue with black trim!
    The pictures-of-hardcopy at Vice are still white & tan, but all manifestations of the photo as seen here have gone medium-blue-and-black.
    Now, a few minutes later, they’ve faded to dingy pale blue-gray with dull tan trim.
    Man! I gotta paint my getaway car in those colors!

    Eric Wilner (3936fd)

  46. Noticed something critical. There is a BRIGHT BLUE light source in the upper-right of the photo (despite the actual lighting being bright and yellow). Try eliminating that and see if everything changes.

    JWB (6cba10)

  47. The dress looks sky blue on my screen but the trim is most definitely not black. So the only conclusion is that the dress itself is white and gold and is being either backlit or lit from above by a spot with a blue filter of some sort such as is used all the time in stage lighting for concerts and plays.

    elissa (682b6f)

  48. The Sage (ba2a4c) — 2/26/2015 @ 11:31 pm

    I thought it looked blue and dark brown.
    That said, I also “knew” that perhaps the lighting altered how it appeared and that it wasn’t truly blue and dark brown.
    The science link was interesting.

    What I am still not clear on is how much of the perception is conscious or pre-conscious. Do some “see” it as sort of light blue, but consciously decide, “I think it is really white and just looks blue”, or whether that decision is made somewhere in the hardware/software pre-consciousness, and whether or not there is some of both, variable with each person

    Whatever happened to, “Seeing is believing”?

    And some of you slept through those lectures on epistemology.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  49. My daughter showed it to me last night also. She sees it as blue/black and has a friend who saw it white/gold, my daughter couldn’t believe someone could say it was white/gold.

    Maybe this will get her to read PP to broaden her knowledge base.

    Add a few posts on Taylor Swift and you might draw a whole new audience of youth who need to learn a few things…

    Maybe start some posts by the offspring of the regulars, P’s kids, nk’s daughter.
    Outreach to the youth before they are led astray.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  50. or whether that decision is made somewhere in the hardware/software pre-consciousness, and whether or not there is some of both, variable with each person

    ? You know that color is in Visual Area 4 of the Visual Cortex.

    nk (dbc370)

  51. Really, the true answer is that the Matrix has broken. Depending on which network switch your pod’s Battery Tower is currently hooked, you’ll see white/gold or blue/black.

    Xmas (f65ded)

  52. My daughter and I browse Patterico when we’re together. I’ve quoted some of her comments. I asked her if she wanted me to sign as “nk’s daughter” and she said “NO!”.

    nk (dbc370)

  53. No I didn’t nk.

    I did once have a patient with “cortical blindness”, his eyes were OK but his brain wasn’t.
    He thought he saw just fine. You could ask him what color was the mug in your hand and he would answer confidently, even when you had nothing in your hand.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  54. I struggled very little to have my normal eye work together with the cyborg one. I have very different vision from each. The repaired eye by itself gives me images about one-eighth larger and sharper but at the loss of some of the red spectrum. The retinal repair necessitated buckles which elongated the eyeball, kind of like a bird’s. But they work fine together for binocular vision. The brain reconciles them. I did switch dominance — it’s now in the undamaged eye whereas it was in the other eye before the injury.

    nk (dbc370)

  55. This is by far the most upsetting piece I’ve ever seen on this site. It’s gold and white! Nothing else!

    Georganne (e37667)

  56. My guarantee to you: by close of business tomorrow, some reporter will have asked Obama: “Gold and white or black and blue?” Guarantee.

    These are the kinds of questions I want him to focus on and leave those other pesky questions to the grown ups.

    Dana (86e864)

  57. It’s light blue and a dull gold. I’m not sure what the name for that not really gold color is. It’s more the color of coffee than tea.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  58. 7.8. Your comments are on a yellow background. The links and the commment time stamp, are bright indigo/sky blue, as always. The text is the same greyish black as in the other comments.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  59. This is a Lenovo ThinkVision monitor.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  60. I see ridged light blue and some junky brown fringe over top of the blue in horizontal stripes.

    At the lower left, if that’s fabric, I see a mottled yellow and faded or harshly lit black.

    luagha (1de9ec)

  61. Better: http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1492

    The true colors appear to be blue and orange.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  62. I note that xkcd refers back to the Monty Hall problem in his text-over.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  63. Sigh. http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-harmonies.htm Safe, and only a picture, nothing to read. When your computer sends those red, blue and green dots to your eyes, does your brain go left or right on the color wheel to guess the actual color?

    Also, if you have both the prints and the developed negatives from film camera photos you got back from Walgreens, way back when, compare them. Same thing.

    nk (dbc370)

  64. Ok, ok, there is text too but you can just look at the pretty pictures.

    nk (dbc370)

  65. Via Twitchy, CNN interviewed the fashion director at the company that made the dress. It’s black and blue.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  66. The dress at the link doesn’t have sleeves. Did the Tumblr dress have sleeves or is that some king of wrap?

    DRJ (e80d46)

  67. Kind of wrap, not king of wrap.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  68. If people’s eyes truly do see vastly different colors when looking at that photograph posted above, then it’s a slam dunk their eyes (and, in turn, their brains) will react quite differently when looking at a photo of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton compared with a photo of Mitt Romney or George W Bush.

    Mark (c160ec)

  69. I think it’s a wrap, not sleeves. Never mind.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  70. Or jacket.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  71. There is no dress.

    There is only an image, and the image is powder blue and brownish gray.

    The dress itself, going by images taken with proper exposure and white balancing, seems to be navy blue with black trim.

    But that does not change the fact that the image is powder blue and brownish gray.

    DJMoore (89aba0)

  72. I see white and gold, I can see blue but never black. My wife sees blue and black, can maybe get to white-ish but cannot see gold.

    I have married a mutant.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  73. some reporter will have asked Obama: “Gold and white or black and blue?” Guarantee.

    And no matter what he says, Scott Walker will have got it wrong.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  74. DjMoore went Matrix on us.

    Technical aspect I discovered just this minute which might make it possible for the White/Gold camp to see the Blue/Black. If you focus on the overexposed area of light next to the hip long enough for it to force your pupil to contract, the dress should appear blue. Or you could stare at a bright light or the sky. Anything that will cause your pupil to contract.

    either that or maybe I’m a mutant.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  75. The dress is the same color(s) on this computer, too. Light blue stripes and brownish gold (more blue than gold. Gold or somewhat like gold is only over the torso.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  76. He’s dead, Jim.

    Lynyrd Nimoy died this morning – he was 83 years – cut down in his prime by the demon tobacco.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  77. Here it really looks gold (and light blue) if that is the same dress.

    http://i.imgur.com/RY2dTnW.jpg

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  78. Most humans on the planet have three types of color cones in their eyes which are sensitive to three colors of light, red, green and blue. A small percentage of women, in the neighborhood of 3%, have four color cones and they see color quite differently than the rest of us. I would suspect that those who see the dress in that photograph as blue and black are those eyes.

    tyree (8e4cdd)

  79. “…have those eyes.”

    tyree (8e4cdd)

  80. The first 20 times I looked at this picture the dress was OBVIOUSLY gold and white.

    Then I refreshed my screen and it was suddenly blue and black.

    The longer I stared at the dress, the bluer and blacker it got.

    And I have not been drinking!

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  81. Apparently no one has said that they have a calibrated display. I have a DLP projector that is calibrated using the Spyder 3 pro colorimeter I purchased some 8 years (or so) ago.

    I see a tan and lavender(bluish-purplish-white) dress.

    The human eye does not perceive “absolute” color, but rather, a differentiation of hues in relation to ambient light.

    Take any two solid color squares and place then on a white background, and then place the same two squares on a yellow, or blue background and watch how the hues change. If that is not enough of a complication, the next time you are in a Lowe’s or Home Depot, stop by the paint department and take any color card sample and hold it under a fluorescent light and then under a incandescent light, then note the difference. Light sources have different (5000k – 6500k for “daylight’) temperatures. When camera operators ask a grip to hold up a white card, they are performing a “white balance” to account for the light temperature.

    felipe (56556d)

  82. Tonight it looked blue and goldish-brown tome, and I’m a male so I don’t think I have 4 kinds of cones…

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  83. Do some “see” it as sort of light blue, but consciously decide, “I think it is really white and just looks blue”

    I grant, I see a bluish cast to the dress, but the nature of the lighting leads me to say it is white where I do SEE, admittedly, light (sky) blue.

    But the other color is BLATANTLY gold. I mean, so freaking clearly GOLD it’s not funny. Anyone who says it’s black is missing some chroma information in their brains.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  84. LOL! That was great Dustin. Airplane just keeps on giving.

    felipe (56556d)

  85. The heavily circulating Youtube video about this image that provides a supposedly scientific explanation for why the dress really isn’t gold and white (or shades of gold, copper and blue-tinted white) doesn’t convince me.

    I ain’t buying the theory.

    After copying and pasting the image into the Paint program and moving blocks of color around the field and comparing them with out-and-out black and blue, there’s no way the photo is merely an illusion in which our eyes — that are interpreting the colors as variations of gold, copper and blueish-white — are playing tricks on us.

    The camera may have been adjusted to distort the actual colors being captured on film (or whatever medium of preservation has been used), but that’s about it.

    Mark (c160ec)

  86. Several pictures I have seen look blue and black and several silver and gold. When I first saw it it was blue and black but once I saw silver and gold most images have been silver and gold.

    Fredlike (d1e6d5)

  87. I think the ophthalmologist quoted at Yahoo may be right and it’s a combination of context and color-blindness.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  88. But I can’t understand why I see it, and have always seen it, as light blue and tan.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  89. DRJ, the best explanation i’ve read is that it depends on how you are conceiving the light source.
    Is your brain saying the light source is direct sunlight, a harsh flash, professional lighting, etc.
    Then the brain goes given the effect on colors of the light source, this is how i will interpolate.

    seeRpea (3383a9)

  90. Light blue and tan-ish are exactly the way I see it too, DRJ. When three images of the dress are posted side by side as has been done on several sites (white gold on the left, dark blue and black on the right, and light blue and tan in the middle) a variation of the middle is the one I see. If I alter the angle of my laptop screen I can change the depth or intensity of the blue. But it never ever goes all the way to either white or to dark/navy blue.

    I’m kind of done with this, now, though, I think. :)

    elissa (6ba77d)

  91. DARN! the dress just changed colors on me to Blue and Black!
    However, i also see a lot of yellow now that i didn’t before in the lower right.
    hmm,
    I am going to check it out tonight. This is the first time I’ve viewed the photo with no artificial light and the natural light coming in is from a somewhat overcast sky.

    seeRpea (3383a9)

  92. I understand being done with this topic but it interests me so much that I’m just getting srtarted. It reminds me of a college anthropology class where the professor intrigued me with stories of how people in different parts of the world see the same colors in different ways. Now we may have an idea why.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  93. TA-DA!
    back to night viewing with artificial lights and back to tan and bluish.
    and the yellow in the lower right is far less garish.

    seeRpea (3383a9)

  94. ramirez take on what color the PotUS thinks it is.

    seeRpea (3383a9)


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