The Full Scope

The Full Scope is a Film and Video game blog specifically designated to the topic of Gender and how it is portrayed in the media

Inspired and Utilized by my Senior Seminar MASCULINITY (And Gender) in Film

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dress Debate is cool as a Psychological Experiment but otherwise, REALLY really Dumb.

First off, don't ask my why the whole internet has lost its head over this ugly dress. But somehow, it happened, and I can ignore some of the stupidity no more.

If you talk to certain people, this dress, and its gold/white vs black/blue color scheme is an interesting experiment to see how our brains interperet certain types of information based on context. When you look, do you see white and gold? Do you see black and blue?

Personally, when I look at it, I think "man that's ugly" and then, based solely on image, I can say it appears to me to be a dark bronze color on a lilac blue dress. So, to me, it is neither. But I also know a couple of other things.

1. If you look at the photo, it is massively over exposed and a minor lense flair is creating, what I can only describe as a filter of light, throwing the colors off balance.
Like the dress, this woman's hair could be light ash blonde, brown or medium blonde, and her shirt could be grey or black, depending on the white balance. Notice the glow surrounding her in the bottom right square - this is similar to the glow that appears across the dress
The color of lighting, too, is extremely important:

2. If you think about the lighting of the room the dress is in, the gold reflections on the gold/black part of the dress occur because the lighting is warm - as is often the case in stores because such lighting makes you appear better in the clothes you are trying on.

That's why high end stores or most mall outlets have rosy colored lighting, while stores that rely more on being affordable (think Walmart and Target) use greenish fluorescent lighting to save money. Ever wonder why the dress you bought at a retail store looked better in the store? All of it has to do with lighting.

Lighting, particularly in images, is vital in explaining how we process an image. (Just ask a home lighter, theater electritian, photographer or film gaffer). Just check out how lighting affects the following photography - same girl, two different looks - and that's just from where the light was placed!

What do these things mean? They mean that some "lighting corrected photos" are more valid than others. 

1. We know in the original picture, because of the ambiant lighting, that the room is lit with a warmed tone light- one closer to yellow than blue (but closest to white light). to correct, the easiest step is just to take down the over exposure.
When you get rid of the over exposure, doing nothing else at all, you end up with this:

Take note of the History tab - that shows how much has been done to the image editing wise. In this case, moving the black level to correct for over exposure is the only thing I have done.

When working in levels, you want the black, grey and white knob guys to stay in the areas of highest intensity , not to stray into the dips.

So what about those other photos? The "color corrected" ones that make the dress appear gold? Well, you can photoshop that easily, following several more steps.

This is the photo that someone erroneously labeled "properly white balanced. Let's show the steps involved in creating this white balance: 

1. From the original image, remove as much of the blue as possible without making everything completely monochromatic:

2. lighten the colors in levels.
Notice that we have to move the white knob into a dip in order to get it the right lightness, where you are not supposed to put something during a white balance.

3. Take out the vibrance to remove harsh dark tones in the gold
4: Add some red tones tones and some blue tones to make the colors appear more natural

After these steps - viola, a white and gold dress (that is still ugly, might I add).

It takes significant effort to make the dress look perfectly gold and white. The "properly white-balanced" label is a fraud. The blue is black and blue. Literally all I had to do to correct the lighting was correct for the exposure.

Long story short, if you find the original image interesting because of how it psychologically affects our brain to interpret colors on the screen, that's cool, that's fine -- woo go brains. However if you are honest for goodness debating the color of the actual real live dress, please give it a rest. It is blue and black. The end.

Also, none of this was about feminism, television, or games, but I'm ok with that if you are.

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