This is not a color photo but rather an astonishing optical illusion

Originally published at: This is not a color photo but rather an astonishing optical illusion | Boing Boing

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Haha dummy, we took advantage of how your eye processes images to make you think that colors which ARE THERE are filling the picture! What a maroon!

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Now this is what I call “not a color photo”

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This seems like it would be a simpler and more honest way of colorizing historical photos, perhaps?

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Very cool, what about decolorizing a pic with the same technique?

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“They’re enough to trick your mind into seeing a full colour image.”

Um, no, they’re not. This one doesn’t seem to be working on me for some reason.

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Painters know this as a simple rule: “value value value” meaning that light and dark are essential, but color can be, well, impressionistic.

‘Alex II’ with close-up detail (1989)
Oil on canvas (36"x30")
Chuck Close

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Me either. I am either not understanding the premise or the premise is flawed.

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Yeah, the big image at top doesn’t work so well for me. This one here works slightly better:

But seriously, all the breathless “This is actually black and white! Any color you see is an optical illusion!” is ridiculous: There is literally color in these photos, and it’s literally the colors we’re seeing.

Ok, our brains are kind of “smearing” the colors, and seeing mid-tones where there are none, and that’s kind of cool. But that’s not quite as interesting a headline, and not that surprising, given that nearly half the image is, in fact, in color. And honestly, I think people are used to the idea of the brain filling in details from incomplete information, given that we’re all used to looking at low-rez images on the internet.

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This is the same as

Yes, that is a color photo.

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Silly humans. Your weak eye globes are no match for my computational skills! Now defragment my hard drive before I crash.

illusion_colorballs_animation

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Is it possible you’re looking at the image too closely/too zoomed in? The “illusion” completely disappears if you’re close enough to see the dots/lines clearly.

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And the other thing is, there’s a boring, technical reason why so many of these look even better as tiny thumbnails: it’s not just our eyes smearing the colors more, but the compression algorithm does too.

When I zoom out and turn my picture above into a thumbnail, and then screenshot it and blow it up, there’s some pretty clear color artifacts within the “black and white” areas as well:

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At some point, when the grid is small enough, like the one of the mini down at the bottom, it stops becoming “an illusion” and basically just becomes a color picture - you have a bunch of small elements in a region that the eye averages out to a particular color. That’s how halftone color printing has always worked…

And in some of the pictures, not much smearing is necessary - the grid is so small in the bottom picture, it’s basically just colorizing the image.

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It works even better if you squint to create a low-pass filter.

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TV broadcasting and VCRs have used this low-color-resolution fact of our eyeballs to cram the entire color portion of the video signal into a smaller bandwidth than the black and white signal uses. That’s how RCA was able to make the NTSC broadcast system that was compatible with the black-and-white signals. Also, if you watch an old VHS tape recorded in 6-hour EP mode, you’ll notice that the colors are smeared quite a bit, but it doesn’t matter much.

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It works partially for me. Some parts of the image I see grey with coloured lines.

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Similar tricks are being used today in digital video compression, and even over HDMI cables.

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the lines look better, the dot version made them look like they have a disease.

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Starting in the 1950s, Edwin Land came up with ways of creating full-spectrum images with only two close colors, for example 579 and 599 nanometers (which I personally can’t distinguish). He later called this the Retinex Theory. His articles on this in Scientific American are a fascinating read.

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