2005 volume 34(8) pages 1003 – 1008
doi:10.1068/p5181

Cite as:
Foster D H, Nascimento S M C, Amano K, 2005, "Information limits on identification of natural surfaces by apparent colour" Perception 34(8) 1003 – 1008

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Information limits on identification of natural surfaces by apparent colour

David H Foster, Sérgio M C Nascimento, Kinjiro Amano

Received 2 December 2003, in revised form 12 October 2004; published online 25 May 2005

Abstract. By adaptational and other mechanisms, the visual system can compensate for moderate changes in the colour of the illumination on a scene. Although the colours of most surfaces are perceived to be constant (‘colour constancy’), some are not. The effect of these residual colour changes on the ability of observers to identify surfaces by their apparent colour was determined theoretically from high-resolution hyperspectral images of natural scenes under different daylights with correlated colour temperatures 4 300 K, 6 500 K, and 25 000 K. Perceived differences between colours were estimated with an approximately uniform colour-distance measure. The information preserved under illuminant changes increased with the number of surfaces in the sample, but was limited to a relatively low asymptotic value, indicating the importance of physical factors in constraining identification by apparent colour.

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