What color is the dress? Why do some people see blue and black and some people see gold and white when looking at a single image of a dress?

It's worse than that, and it is not just an optical illusion.

It is also a camera screwup.

Cameras will try to adjust colors based on formulas that guess what the correct color scheme is.

If you take a photo while in the shade on a sunny day, you likely get most of your light from the bright BLUE sky. This can make you look awful. The camera is set up to guess the correct exposure. Most of the time this works pretty well, and pictures comes out looking pretty good.

In this case the camera followed the rules, and guesses, wrongly, that the the overall majority color in the center of the photo is more or less white, and transforms the rest of the colors to match.

It's a camera screwup.

It also depends on how bad your viewing device is behaving, because, based on how dark the screen is, you then get the optical illusion effect that Randall posted. This is a secondary effect, and not the real reason why behind what is going on in the first place.

The correct rendering of the photo with the camera screwup is going to be, on most devices with normal color rendition, white with gold. Because some monitors are lighter or darker depending on viewing angle, this also impacts color perception.

We can then get to the actual optical illusion after all that. But as we have seen with good photos of the actual dress in normal light, the camera got it wrong.

This was originally posted on tumblr webpage. This should be a warning as it is. Again, note that the original photo looks nothing like the actual dress. This was not obviously stated in the actual original post.

This really confused the OP on tumblr, who posted the photo on tumblr asking for an explanation. This was a bad choice, because the photo on tumblr has bad colors. very bad colors.

People then started having problems because the optical illusion issue, and so some folks saw it one way, and some saw it another.

So we have several point of confusion.

  • The original photo was bad.
  • There was an optical illusion going on.
  • Some people were trolling.

Que the arguments, etc.

Your eyes are not crazy.

TL;DR: It is also a cell phone camera auto-correct for color that got mixed up with all of this. Just like the infamous errors in auto-correct in spelling.

/r/askscience Thread