We describe illumination spectra in forests and show that they can be accurately recovered from recorded digital video images. Natural illuminant spectra of 238 samples measured in temperate forests were characterized by principal-component analysis. The spectra can be accurately approximated by the mean and the first two principal components. Compared with illumination under open skies, the loci of forest illuminants are displaced toward the green region in the chromaticity plots, and unlike open sky illumination they cannot be characterized by correlated color temperature. We show that it is possible to recover illuminant spectra accurately from digital video images by a linear least-squares-fit estimation technique. The use of digital video data in spectral analysis provides a promising new approach to the studies of the spatial and temporal variation of illumination in natural scenes and the understanding of color vision in natural environments.
© 2000 Optical Society of America
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