Disentangling simultaneous changes of surface and illumination

Our faculty member Ass.Prof. Katja Doerschner has published a paper with Robert Ennis from Justus-Liebig-Universitaet Giessen.


Retinally incident light is an ambiguous product of spectral distributions of light in the environment and their interactions with reflecting, absorbing, and transmitting materials. An ideal color constant observer would unravel these confounded sources of information and account for changes in each factor. Scene statistics have been proposed as a way to compensate for changes in the illumination, but few theories consider changes of 3-dimensional surfaces. Here, we investigated the visual system’s capacity to deal with simultaneous changes in illumination and surfaces. Spheres were imaged with a hyperspectral camera in a white box and their colors, as well as that of the illumination were varied along “red-green” and “blue-yellow” axes. Both the original hyperspectral images and replica scenes rendered with Mitsuba were used as stimuli, including rendered scenes with Glavens (Acta Psychologica, 2009, 132, 259–266). Observers viewed sequential, random pairs of our images, with either the whole scene, only the object, or only a part of the background being present. They judged how much the illuminant and object color changed on a scale of 0–100%. Observers could extract simultaneous illumination and reflectance changes when provided with a view of the whole scene, but global scene statistics did not fully account for their behavior, while local scene statistics improved the situation. There was no effect of color axis, shape, or simulated vs. original hyperspectral images. Observers appear to be making use of various sources of local information to complete the task.

Ennis, R., & Doerschner, K. (2019). Disentangling simultaneous changes of surface and illumination. Vision Research158, 173–188. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2019.02.004