Every few months, a photo pops up on the internet that flips everything on its head. When you first lay eyes on it, everything you thought you knew about the world goes right out the window and fights break out among even the closest of friends. That’s just what optical illusions do best. So, if you just now forgave your pal who swore that stupid dress was white and gold, get ready for yet another disagreement because there’s a new photo in town and it has everyone freaking out.
An optical illusion specialist — who knew such a title existed — named Akiyoshi Kitaoka recently tweeted a photo of a plate of strawberries. Along with the photo, Kitaoka wrote, “Strawberries appear to be reddish, though the pixels are not.” You’ll experience a major WTF moment when you look at the photo of the strawberries, see them as red, but then realize there are no red pixels present in the photo.
Before you totally lose you mind and flip out on this poor optical illusion specialist, insisting that these strawberries are in fact red, take a minute to look at this next tweet and maybe take a few calming deep breaths. Here, someone isolated the colors that are actually present in the area of the photo that feature strawberries. The colors that appear are all shades of grey. Check it out:
According to Motherboard, the phenomenon that’s causing you to see red even though red is not present anywhere in the photo is called color constancy. Motherboard explains that color constancy is “your brain's way of color correcting the world when it's filtered through different light.” Bevil Conway of the National Eye Institute put it most clearly when he said, "If you imagine walking around outside under a blue sky, that blueness is, in some sense, color-contaminating everything you see. If you take a red apple outside under a blue sky, there are more blue wavelengths entering your eye. If you take the apple inside under a fluorescent or incandescent light without that same bias, the pigments in the apple are exactly the same but because the spectral content of the light source is different, the spectrum entering your eye that's reflected off the object is different.”
Color contamination from light isn’t helpful, so our brains have simply evolved to correct color. And since we already strongly associate strawberries with the color red, our brains automatically assign the color red to the berries in this picture. It’s all very weird and science-y, but the most important take away is that these strawberries are not red. It’s just your brain doing its brain thing. We really hope we didn’t ruin your love of strawberries with this controversial photo.