In 2017 a picture of a Vans sneakers was posted on social media, and people were asked to guess what colour it was.
With the recent lockdown in most countries, including South Africa, the picture has re-surfaced on the internet with many trying to guess again.
Most commented that they saw the sneaker as grey with minty green/ turquoise laces and striping.
A few, myself included, saw the sneaker as pink with white laces and striping.
In 2015 people went crazy, and had some celebrities weighing in like Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian on social media, of a similar picture which showed a dress which everyone assumed was white and gold, but later found out that the dress was actually blue and black. This was due to the difference in contrast and brightness in the image.
But what colour are the actual sneakers ?
When the photo re-surfaced last year there were many explanations, and on one image there was a caption which claimed that the different colours we see, was due to you being dominant in your left or right side of your brain.
Right and Left Brain Dominant
Image Source Facebook
I was not convinced with these findings, as it didn't make sense to me that my husband and child could see grey and blue, but I could see pink and white. I have always felt that my husband was more creative, which meant that he would use his right side of the brain more.
After the results that we received from our social media posts, it got me thinking even more, and had me doing some research on the subject, until I came across an interesting article from Young Post.
Young Post interviewed a clinical professor from the neurology division at University of Hong Kong’s department of medicine, Raymond Cheung Tak-fai, who seemed to have a more plausible explanation on why we see the different colours.
The first thing he dispelled was the fact that the colours we see in the photo had nothing to do with our mental strengths.
Cheung Tak-fai said
“Sometimes people just really want to know where their talents lie, and they make claims without scientific grounds,”
The professor went on to say that although to some people the sneaker might look green and grey, he suspected it was in fact pink and white.
“Since the palm and thumb in the photo reflect some odd green light, I think the photo was taken in a dark environment with a green flashlight,”
Cheung Tak-fai suggested.
“When the green light is projected onto the white shoelaces, they will come off as green. Also green plus pink equals grey.”
Cheung Tak-fai then listed several factors why different people see the colours differently. He said that if one stared at the picture long enough, our brain would adapt to the colours and no longer be sensitive towards them.
“If you stare at the green shoelaces, you’ll realise after awhile, they are not as green anymore. That is because our cells which are sensitive to green light adapt to the colour, and are no longer stimulated by it. Therefore, the green will become white,”
said Cheung Tak-fai.
He added that if fewer of these “green light” cells function, the cells which are sensitive to red and blue light might dominate and thus, the grey would appear pink.
I generally have a problem with light at night, I need the room to be very dark, and I wear a nicely padded Estée Lauder eye-mask. I try not to look at my phone before I go to sleep, and if I do check it, the blue light filter is on and the background brightness is at its lowest. I've also been using a pair of SleepSpec glasses which are amber-tinted glasses that absorbs blue light from electronic devices that are worn before you go to sleep.
All this could aid in the reason why I saw the pink and white, as my eyes are still very sensitive to the blue light.
There were also other factors which the professor mentioned which affected how our vision worked. He said that we are able to recognise different colours because our cone cells, which are responsible for colour vision, are sensitive to certain lights.
According to him: as we get older, our perception of colour can also start to fail. Macular degeneration happens because there are fewer light-sensitive cells on our retina. He said colour sensitivity varies from person to person, as some people might be born with larger number of cone cells, so it’s not surprising that we perceive colours differently at times.
Cheung Tak-fai said the lenses of our eyes also become yellow as we get older.
“It’s as if you’d put on yellow sunglasses. Everything that you see is filtered by a yellow layer,”
said Cheung Tak-fai.
“Then, grey may appear to be pink as the yellow reduces the green light intensity.”
Cheung Tak-fai further explained that the brightness of the picture could affect what we see. The brighter the picture is, the closer we can get to recognising the real colours, as our cone cells are stimulated by light.
He did an experiment that you might want to try: if you increase the saturation level of the picture, you might be more likely to see pink and white.
He said this exercise imitates the activities of our sensitive cone cells. The saturation imitates our sensitivity towards differently coloured
So the answer of what colour are the sneakers ?
Pink and White
Grey and Green and Pink and White Sneakers
Image Source Mirror
Nabihah Plaatjes is the Co-Founder of iloveza.com.
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