The visual mechanism of a normal observer is so constructed that objects keep nearly their daylight colors even when the illuminant departs markedly from average daylight. The processes by means of which the observer adapts to the illuminant or discounts most of the effect of a nondaylight illuminant are complicated; they are known to be partly retinal and partly cortical. By taking into account the various fragments of both qualitative and quantitative information to be found in the literature, relations have been formulated by means of which it is possible to compute approximately the hue, saturation,and lightness (tint, value) of a surface color from the tristimulus specifications of the light reflected from the surface and of the light reflected from the background against which it is viewed. Preliminary observations of 15 surfaces under each of 5 different illuminants have demonstrated the adequacy of the formulation and have led to an approximate evaluation of the constants appearing in it. More detailed and extensive observations have been carried out in the psychological laboratories of Bryn Mawr College and these observations have resulted in an improved formulation.

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