PetaPixel

Amazing Optical Illusion Shows That Our Eyes Are Horrible Light Meters

Here’s a mind-bending video in which someone created the famous checker shadow illusion in real life. The optical illusion takes advantage of the way our brains process lighting and shadows.

As with many so-called illusions, this effect really demonstrates the success rather than the failure of the visual system. The visual system is not very good at being a physical light meter, but that is not its purpose. The important task is to break the image information down into meaningful components, and thereby perceive the nature of the objects in view. [#]

Interesting huh? Our eyes aren’t very good as a light meters, since they’re easily deceived by context.

Here’s the same optical illusion as a graphic:

The squares labeled A and B are exactly the same color (use the color-dropper tool in Photoshop if you don’t believe it).

(via Gizmodo via Strobist)


 
 
  • Allen Forrest

     They are the same color as the dark squares in the light BUT they appear darker because they are partially in shadow.  When these shadowed dark squares are up against the shadowed light squares, the contrast between the two remains the same as in the light, but really the middle light square is the same color as the dark one on the outside.
      The only illusion here is the different between shadow and light, NOT the part where he moves the square in and out, that is FAKE and a video trick to demonstrate the color regardless of light.

  • Allen Forrest

     Exactly.  The illusion is true, but moving the square in and out of shadow is trickery of the video.

  • Georgey

    That’s because that part of the video is faked.  He sort of explains it in the description on YouTube, but not very clearly,  I suspect intentionally.  The illusion is, when separated, although they are different colored tiles, under different lighting appear different but are actually the same color.
       You are correct, when it leaves the shadow and enters the light, it actually becomes darker which is wrong and he has faked it to “show” that if you could “burn in the shadow” and  move the tile you could see more clearly.  I better way to show this without really confusing people would have just been to slice the video and slide it down to compare.  Moving the tile in and out of light is not correct and has been manipulated.
      In a way, he has destroyed this illusion.

  • Rafee M A

    it fake, paper effects only like sun glasses

  • http://twitter.com/zak Zak Henry

    By faked I hope you are referring to the fact that the checkerboard isn’t printed as uniform colours? The shadow is actually printed on the board, with the beauty dish giving the illusion that it is casting the shadow.

    No part of the video footage is faked at all. Inspect the lights people!

  • http://twitter.com/zak Zak Henry

    By faked I hope you are referring to the fact that the checkerboard isn’t printed as uniform colours? The shadow is actually printed on the board, with the beauty dish giving the illusion that it is casting the shadow.

    No part of the video footage is faked at all. Inspect the lights people!

  • Thomas Nielsen

    Archer suggests that you print the graphics and go analog. I have done the next best thing and threw the illustration into PS, cut it in half and moved the B square atop the A square. Look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OB1bloVPzQ for a short video. 

  • Thomas Nielsen

    Archer suggests that you print the graphics and go analog. I have done the next best thing and threw the illustration into PS, cut it in half and moved the B square atop the A square. Look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OB1bloVPzQ for a short video. 

  • BUCK

    heres what puts everything to rest!!!!,…,….just take a paper,..casually trace out the location of the two boxes in the picture above by placing it right against your LCd,..cut out the boxes,.put the paper back on the lcd over the two boxes so u see only those two,.. and look!!!,……voila,….they are the exact freaking same color mannn!!! 

    but whyyy does a dark object appear lighter when in shadow,..
    obviously the iris opens up and the other darker objects makes our beloved square lighter,..conversely of what happens when viewed in more light,…but how can that happen when watching both simultaneously,…cos we see all at once n if the A and B are same color then what color are the others,..lighter greys ???darkers greys ????blacks??/ whites???n ys the cylinder green or is it????

  • Dan

    What I find most interesting is that even though more than one definitive method is given to enable anyone to prove this illusion to themselves and quite likely enjoy an opportunity of amazement and wonder, many people simply ignore the opportunity for proof and stick with their first impression.  Not only that, they deride those that have taken the time to examine the evidence and express wonder at the full depth of the truth. Yes, the shades are different by merely subjective means, but with objective measurements, a fuller truth is revealed.  Our brains are subject to an astounding array of sensory and cognitive effects just like this one, many of which we are all experiencing on daily basis.  The strife demonstrated in this one, simple example has been and is been played out with other examples repeatedly in the real world with dire consequences for many.  Hopefully a few people will take this example and ask questions about their own unexamined beliefs in other areas.

  • Dan

    What I find most interesting is that even though more than one definitive method is given to enable anyone to prove this illusion to themselves and quite likely enjoy an opportunity of amazement and wonder, many people simply ignore the opportunity for proof and stick with their first impression.  Not only that, they deride those that have taken the time to examine the evidence and express wonder at the full depth of the truth. Yes, the shades are different by merely subjective means, but with objective measurements, a fuller truth is revealed.  Our brains are subject to an astounding array of sensory and cognitive effects just like this one, many of which we are all experiencing on daily basis.  The strife demonstrated in this one, simple example has been and is been played out with other examples repeatedly in the real world with dire consequences for many.  Hopefully a few people will take this example and ask questions about their own unexamined beliefs in other areas.

  • Dan

    What I find most interesting is that even though more than one definitive method is given to enable anyone to prove this illusion to themselves and quite likely enjoy an opportunity of amazement and wonder, many people simply ignore the opportunity for proof and stick with their first impression.  Not only that, they deride those that have taken the time to examine the evidence and express wonder at the full depth of the truth. Yes, the shades are different by merely subjective means, but with objective measurements, a fuller truth is revealed.  Our brains are subject to an astounding array of sensory and cognitive effects just like this one, many of which we are all experiencing on daily basis.  The strife demonstrated in this one, simple example has been and is been played out with other examples repeatedly in the real world with dire consequences for many.  Hopefully a few people will take this example and ask questions about their own unexamined beliefs in other areas.

  • abhiD

    you know,..how i know this aint fake but goods truth,….cos the maker of this lil vid,did not use a supersexy model with a huge bust for everyone to see and get distracted the time she goes down,….aha!!!!!
    (u r very pretty though ,..u,. lady in the vid,..)

  • Jasmine

    Hell i just copied and used paint

  • Graham Case

    I’m with Pieeet on this one. In the optical illusion, the point is that the two squares in question are supposed to be different shades: lighter and darker. The “lighter” one is made darker by the shadow of the cylinder. It should, when moved next to “darker” one, look lighter, since they’re in the same lighting conditions.

  • Graham Case

    I’m with Pieeet on this one. In the optical illusion, the point is that the two squares in question are supposed to be different shades: lighter and darker. The “lighter” one is made darker by the shadow of the cylinder. It should, when moved next to “darker” one, look lighter, since they’re in the same lighting conditions.

  • Lulu

    the point is, your eyes can clearly see they are the same color without using paint/photoshop

  • Lulu

    the point is, your eyes can clearly see they are the same color without using paint/photoshop

  • Lulu

    the point is, your eyes can clearly see they are the same color without using paint/photoshop

  • Lulu

    WOw.. now I realized.. that if you look at the image when it’s really small, it is very easy to see how the tiles are the same color.

  • Lulu

    WOw.. now I realized.. that if you look at the image when it’s really small, it is very easy to see how the tiles are the same color.

  • Lulu

    WOw.. now I realized.. that if you look at the image when it’s really small, it is very easy to see how the tiles are the same color.

  • John

    Yes, the video features a square with a shadow illusion painted or printed on it. The square is well lit from above (as well as from the side) so that there is no shadow from the right of the cylinder. Note the shadows from her hands and legs go in two directions.

  • David Aguilar

    Our eyes are actually excellent light receptors.
    What sucks is how the brain deals with the tons and tons of information.
    The brain selects just a few bits of info from here and there and then builds an image with what it collected. YOU NEVER ACTUALLY SEE WHAT’S ACTUALLY THERE. but a reconstruction your brain built.
    Other interesting trick your brain uses to filter info is it temporarily stops receiving information from the eyes, while they are darting from one point to another. Basically you are blind for a millisecond.

    Reading through the comments all I can think of is:
    “Oh please, someone help us…”