So wham! Rumor has it that apparently two years to the date, or at least the same week, we get a sequel to "The Dress." The not so red strawberries.
If you're not familiar with the dress you should probably be swept up by the Men in Black since it's clear you're not from this planet! But I'll explain while they arrive... "The Dress" was a simple photo post asking what color the dress in question was. It was not an amazing photo, nor was it posted from a celebrity account with gazillions of followers. Yet for some reason it took hold with every living being with internet access. Scratch that, I think even the tiny demographic of color fax machines received the photo with the question! Answers were split right down the middle: "Blue and Black" followed by "Are you crazy? It's White and Gold" or the reverse.
The question played out in an argument at the office, national and international news, and most definitely in the comments section everywhere. Of all random viral internet moments "The Dress" stands tall in the crowd. For those keeping track White and Gold actually was the majority winner in most cases. Winning Polls for "White and Gold" came in at 53.8% vs 39.8% on CNN with almost 300,000 votes, and 67% to 33% on Buzzfeed boasting an impressive 3.6 million votes! I actually was surprised by that since it's clearly Blue and Black...
Why All This Color Craziness?
Color constancy is an example of subjective constancy and a feature of the human color perception system which ensures that the perceived color of objects remains relatively constant under varying illumination conditions. We tend to think a color just is, and will be regardless of light. But in reality color is simple the way the light reflects off something. My son is very into Jonathon Bird, a successful underwater photographer and host of Blue World TV which I highly recommend! In one of his videos he points out that once you're past a certain depth in the water, a bowl or Skittles would look like different shades of grey. It's actually depth dependent and goes in the order of the spectrum. Red is the first to go at 15ft, orange is next at 25ft, yellow at 35-45ft, and finally green at 70-75ft. Luckily our brain uses good old color constancy to compensate and we still perceive our dear little reds.
So Onto the Strawberries in Question
This image caught some attention on Twitter after being created and shared by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Professor of Psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. If you have not heard of the College, neither had I. So in the name of fact checking, I checked in and not only is it very reputable and prestigious looking, but after some random digging around I found it has CG and Game Club. What is CG and Game Club you say? CG&G Club is "creating computer graphics for games, from planning games, writing scenario, creating graphics, sounds and programming all by ourselves." Yeah um, Japan rocks! And Akiyoshi has some other really crazy illusions on his site (Warning - your eyes may not be ready for some of the movement without movement illusions!).
So I've read multiple articles about these babies, and all claim 100% no red pixels which is the part that really boggles the mind, since most of us clearly are seeing red strawberries on that plate. While I do agree with the true nature of the Red look of the fruit resulting from the phenomenon of Color Constancy, I do think there is some trickery at play since I was easily able to find reddish pixels in my photo editor of choice.
Could these subtle hints of red cause the whole Strawberry to seem it? I think our brain is doing most of the heavy lifting there, but it does probably help. Also I feel like the illusion might still work without the slightly reddish specks. But who knows, maybe as I hear they say with horseradish "a little bit goes a long way!" What do you think - are they Red?
I'm more impressed by this little cartoon girl, but slightly concerned about her smoking habit!
Shaun Maluga pointed out in the comments that this version has no red at all and the illusion actually works better.