Scene articulation: dependence of illuminant estimates on number of surfaces

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The ability of observers to detect changes in illuminant over two scenes containing different random samples of reflecting surfaces was determined in an experiment with Mondrian-like patterns containing different numbers of coloured patches. Performance was found to improve as the number of patches increased from 9 to 49. In principle, observers could have used space-average scene colour as the cue ('grey-world' hypothesis) or the colour of the brightest surface in the scene (bright-is-white' hypothesis), as the two cues generally covary. In a second experiment, observers matched illuminants across different patterns in which the space-average cue and the brightest-patch cue were independently manipulated. The articulation of the patterns was varied: the number of patches increased from 49 (patch width 1 deg visual angle) to over 50 000 (patch width 0.03 deg), while the gamut of colours was held constant. Space-average colour was found to be the dominant cue with all patterns except for those with the largest patches.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002