Sun and sky: does human vision assume a mixture of point and diffuse illumination when interpreting shape-from-shading?

Andrew Schofield, Paul B. Rock, Mark A Georgeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

People readily perceive smooth luminance variations as being due to the shading produced by undulations of a 3-D surface (shape-from-shading). In doing so, the visual system must simultaneously estimate the shape of the surface and the nature of the illumination. Remarkably, shape-from-shading operates even when both these properties are unknown and neither can be estimated directly from the image. In such circumstances humans are thought to adopt a default illumination model. A widely held view is that the default illuminant is a point source located above the observer's head. However, some have argued instead that the default illuminant is a diffuse source. We now present evidence that humans may adopt a flexible illumination model that includes both diffuse and point source elements. Our model estimates a direction for the point source and then weights the contribution of this source according to a bias function. For most people the preferred illuminant direction is overhead with a strong diffuse component.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2317-30
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Volume51
Issue number21-22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2011

Keywords

  • cues
  • depth perception
  • form perception
  • humans
  • lighting
  • theoretical models
  • visual pattern recognition
  • photic stimulation

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