Time-lapse ratios of cone excitations in natural scenes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The illumination in natural environments varies through the day. Stable inferences about surface color might be supported by spatial ratios of cone excitations from the reflected light, but their invariance has been quantified only for global changes in illuminant spectrum. The aim here was to test their invariance under natural changes in both illumination spectrum and geometry, especially in the distribution of shadows. Time-lapse hyperspectral radiance images were acquired from five outdoor vegetated and nonvegetated scenes. From each scene, 10,000 pairs of points were sampled randomly and ratios measured across time. Mean relative deviations in ratios were generally large, but when sampling was limited to short distances or moderate time intervals, they fell below the level for detecting violations in ratio invariance. When illumination changes with uneven geometry were excluded, they fell further, to levels obtained with global changes in illuminant spectrum alone. Within sampling constraints, ratios of cone excitations, and also of opponent-color combinations, provide an approximately invariant signal for stable surface-color inferences, despite spectral and geometric variations in scene illumination.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-60
JournalVision Research
Early online date3 Apr 2015
StatePublished - Mar 2016