Abstract

Optical techniques to measure the small-scale shape of the ocean surface, i.e., the short wind waves, are theoretically reviewed. The well-known shape-from-shading and shape-from-stereo paradigms from computer vision are applied to a specular reflecting surface such as the ocean surface and are used to study a variety of techniques. The analysis shows that most techniques for the imaging of short wind waves, such as Stilwell photography and various stereo techniques, have significant deficiencies. Stereophotography is plagued by insufficient height resolution for small waves and by the problem that, because of the specular nature of reflection at the water surface, features seen in one image are not necessarily found in the other (correspondence problem). Techniques based on light reflection (shape from reflection) are useful only for deriving wave-slope statistics, and techniques based on light refraction (shape from refraction) are found to be most suitable for wave slope imaging.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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