Abstract

We have analyzed the changes in the color of objects in natural scenes due to atmospheric scattering according to changes in the distance of observation. Hook-shaped curves were found in the chromaticity diagram when the object moved from zero distance to long distances, where the object chromaticity coordinates approached the color coordinates of the horizon. This trend is the result of the combined effect of attenuation in the direct light arriving to the observer from the object and the airlight added during its trajectory. Atmospheric scattering leads to a fall in the object’s visibility, which is measurable as a difference in color between the object and the background (taken here to be the horizon). Focusing on color difference instead of luminance difference could produce different visibility values depending on the color tolerance used. We assessed the cone-excitation ratio constancy for several objects at different distances. Affine relationships were obtained when an object’s cone excitations were represented both at zero distance and increasing distances. These results could help to explain color constancy in natural scenes for objects at different distances, a phenomenon that has been pointed out by different authors.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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