that colour changing dress… why we see different colours

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

that colour changing dress... why we see different colours

I was with friends when ‘that dress’ hit the internet. They thought I was pulling their leg when I said I saw a gold/white dress when they were seeing blue/black. How can it be we could see such different colours looking at the same photograph?

I knew there was a number of things at play here, such as lighting conditions, camera settings, simultaneous contrast, metamerism, chromatic induction, the way our computers renders colour… what could it be…?

Given this isn’t my field of colour expertise, I wanted to wait until the colour vision scientists and experts in colour perception had spoken, to get their expert opinion and thoughts on this. Here are two of the best:

Christoph Witzel from Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, explaining Why do different observers see extremely different colours in the same photo?


Steve Westland from Leeds University with his thoughts on that dress.

If nothing else, it set the internet alight with colour curiosity and pushed colour to the forefront. Which can only be a good thing…


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