Abstract

The radiance of most objects seen at a distance through the atmosphere is dominated by scattered light of a blue hue that should make the landscape appear predominately blue. However, common experience shows that people can see colors at a distance. A possible explanation of this paradox is that the visual system splits the light into a haze layer and the background landscape. A straightforward mathematical description of this splitting explains the results of a color matching study in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In this study, hues of objects seen through haze were found to be constant with changes in optical depth while colorfulness decreased exponentially.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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References

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  1. M. G. F. Minnaert, Light and Color in the Outdoors (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1993), p. 265.
  2. Minnaert’s observations may be repeated by looking through a small (∼0.5 cm) hole made by a cupped hand or a hole in a piece of cardboard and looking at any distant landscape feature. One should allow about 45 seconds to a minute for the eye to adapt to the new conditions.
  3. W. E. K. Middleton, Vision Through the Atmosphere (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1952), p. 73.
  4. The visual range is usually taken to be the distance at which the optical depth reaches 3.91.
  5. E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).
  6. S. Mahadev, R. C. Henry, “Application of a color-appearance model to vision through atmospheric haze,” Color Res. Appl. 24, 112–120 (1999).
    [CrossRef]
  7. Shudeish Mahadev, “Quantifying the color appearance of objects viewed through atmospheric haze,” Ph.D. dissertation (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif., 1998).
  8. R. C. Henry, T. Shibata, D. Chitwood, “Construction and operation of a video-based visual colorimeter for atmospheric research,” Atmos. Environ., Part A 28, 1065–1069 (1994).
    [CrossRef]
  9. While haploscopic matching with the visual colorimeter, the observer sees the natural scene in one eye and the adjustable color spot in the other. The two views do not fuse, and the observer must learn to switch attention from one eye to the other, which can be difficult. Years ago an attempt was made to alleviate this difficulty and better control the matching. The first author designed a visual colorimeter with an automated mechanism that alternately blocked first the eye viewing the colorimeter display and then the eye viewing the natural scene, so that the observer did not have to deal with visual rivalry between the two eyes. This approach was found to be too slow and unworkable under field conditions and was abandoned.
  10. R. W. G. Hunt, The Reproduction of Colour, 5th ed. (Fountain, England, 1995), Chap. 31.
  11. P. Whittle, “Contrast brightness and ordinary seeing,” in Lightness, Brightness, and Transparency, A. L. Gilchrist, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1994), p. 113.
  12. Mark D. Fairchild, Color Appearance Models (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1998).
  13. W. Gerbino, “Achromatic transparency,” in Lightness, Brightness, and Transparency, A. L. Gilchrist, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1994), Chap. 5.
  14. M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  15. V. J. Chen, M. D’Zmura, “Test of a convergence model for color transparency perception,” Perception 27, 595–608 (1998).
    [CrossRef]
  16. A. L. Gilchrist, A. Jacobsen, “Lightness constancy through a veiling luminance,” J. Exp. Psychol. 9, 936–944 (1983).
  17. R. C. Henry, “Psychophysics, visibility, and perceived transparency,” Atmos. Environ. 21, 159–164 (1987).
    [CrossRef]
  18. “Protecting visibility in national parks and wilderness areas” (National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1993).

1999 (1)

S. Mahadev, R. C. Henry, “Application of a color-appearance model to vision through atmospheric haze,” Color Res. Appl. 24, 112–120 (1999).
[CrossRef]

1998 (1)

V. J. Chen, M. D’Zmura, “Test of a convergence model for color transparency perception,” Perception 27, 595–608 (1998).
[CrossRef]

1997 (1)

M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

1994 (1)

R. C. Henry, T. Shibata, D. Chitwood, “Construction and operation of a video-based visual colorimeter for atmospheric research,” Atmos. Environ., Part A 28, 1065–1069 (1994).
[CrossRef]

1987 (1)

R. C. Henry, “Psychophysics, visibility, and perceived transparency,” Atmos. Environ. 21, 159–164 (1987).
[CrossRef]

1983 (1)

A. L. Gilchrist, A. Jacobsen, “Lightness constancy through a veiling luminance,” J. Exp. Psychol. 9, 936–944 (1983).

Andrews, E.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Chen, V. J.

V. J. Chen, M. D’Zmura, “Test of a convergence model for color transparency perception,” Perception 27, 595–608 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Chitwood, D.

R. C. Henry, T. Shibata, D. Chitwood, “Construction and operation of a video-based visual colorimeter for atmospheric research,” Atmos. Environ., Part A 28, 1065–1069 (1994).
[CrossRef]

Colantoni, P.

M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

D’Zmura, M.

V. J. Chen, M. D’Zmura, “Test of a convergence model for color transparency perception,” Perception 27, 595–608 (1998).
[CrossRef]

M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Fairchild, Mark D.

Mark D. Fairchild, Color Appearance Models (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1998).

Gerbino, W.

W. Gerbino, “Achromatic transparency,” in Lightness, Brightness, and Transparency, A. L. Gilchrist, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1994), Chap. 5.

Gilchrist, A. L.

A. L. Gilchrist, A. Jacobsen, “Lightness constancy through a veiling luminance,” J. Exp. Psychol. 9, 936–944 (1983).

Henry, R. C.

S. Mahadev, R. C. Henry, “Application of a color-appearance model to vision through atmospheric haze,” Color Res. Appl. 24, 112–120 (1999).
[CrossRef]

R. C. Henry, T. Shibata, D. Chitwood, “Construction and operation of a video-based visual colorimeter for atmospheric research,” Atmos. Environ., Part A 28, 1065–1069 (1994).
[CrossRef]

R. C. Henry, “Psychophysics, visibility, and perceived transparency,” Atmos. Environ. 21, 159–164 (1987).
[CrossRef]

Hildemann, L. M.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Hunt, R. W. G.

R. W. G. Hunt, The Reproduction of Colour, 5th ed. (Fountain, England, 1995), Chap. 31.

Jacobsen, A.

A. L. Gilchrist, A. Jacobsen, “Lightness constancy through a veiling luminance,” J. Exp. Psychol. 9, 936–944 (1983).

Knoblauch, K.

M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Koutrakis, P.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Lennie, P.

M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Mahadev, S.

S. Mahadev, R. C. Henry, “Application of a color-appearance model to vision through atmospheric haze,” Color Res. Appl. 24, 112–120 (1999).
[CrossRef]

Mahadev, Shudeish

Shudeish Mahadev, “Quantifying the color appearance of objects viewed through atmospheric haze,” Ph.D. dissertation (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif., 1998).

McMurry, P. H.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Middleton, W. E. K.

W. E. K. Middleton, Vision Through the Atmosphere (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1952), p. 73.

Minnaert, M. G. F.

M. G. F. Minnaert, Light and Color in the Outdoors (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1993), p. 265.

Musarra, S.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Olmez, I.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Saxena, P.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Shibata, T.

R. C. Henry, T. Shibata, D. Chitwood, “Construction and operation of a video-based visual colorimeter for atmospheric research,” Atmos. Environ., Part A 28, 1065–1069 (1994).
[CrossRef]

White, W. H.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

Whittle, P.

P. Whittle, “Contrast brightness and ordinary seeing,” in Lightness, Brightness, and Transparency, A. L. Gilchrist, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1994), p. 113.

Atmos. Environ. (1)

R. C. Henry, “Psychophysics, visibility, and perceived transparency,” Atmos. Environ. 21, 159–164 (1987).
[CrossRef]

Atmos. Environ., Part A (1)

R. C. Henry, T. Shibata, D. Chitwood, “Construction and operation of a video-based visual colorimeter for atmospheric research,” Atmos. Environ., Part A 28, 1065–1069 (1994).
[CrossRef]

Color Res. Appl. (1)

S. Mahadev, R. C. Henry, “Application of a color-appearance model to vision through atmospheric haze,” Color Res. Appl. 24, 112–120 (1999).
[CrossRef]

J. Exp. Psychol. (1)

A. L. Gilchrist, A. Jacobsen, “Lightness constancy through a veiling luminance,” J. Exp. Psychol. 9, 936–944 (1983).

Perception (2)

M. D’Zmura, P. Colantoni, K. Knoblauch, P. Lennie, “Color transparency,” Perception 26, 471–492 (1997).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

V. J. Chen, M. D’Zmura, “Test of a convergence model for color transparency perception,” Perception 27, 595–608 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Other (12)

Shudeish Mahadev, “Quantifying the color appearance of objects viewed through atmospheric haze,” Ph.D. dissertation (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif., 1998).

“Protecting visibility in national parks and wilderness areas” (National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1993).

While haploscopic matching with the visual colorimeter, the observer sees the natural scene in one eye and the adjustable color spot in the other. The two views do not fuse, and the observer must learn to switch attention from one eye to the other, which can be difficult. Years ago an attempt was made to alleviate this difficulty and better control the matching. The first author designed a visual colorimeter with an automated mechanism that alternately blocked first the eye viewing the colorimeter display and then the eye viewing the natural scene, so that the observer did not have to deal with visual rivalry between the two eyes. This approach was found to be too slow and unworkable under field conditions and was abandoned.

R. W. G. Hunt, The Reproduction of Colour, 5th ed. (Fountain, England, 1995), Chap. 31.

P. Whittle, “Contrast brightness and ordinary seeing,” in Lightness, Brightness, and Transparency, A. L. Gilchrist, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1994), p. 113.

Mark D. Fairchild, Color Appearance Models (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1998).

W. Gerbino, “Achromatic transparency,” in Lightness, Brightness, and Transparency, A. L. Gilchrist, ed. (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N.J., 1994), Chap. 5.

M. G. F. Minnaert, Light and Color in the Outdoors (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1993), p. 265.

Minnaert’s observations may be repeated by looking through a small (∼0.5 cm) hole made by a cupped hand or a hole in a piece of cardboard and looking at any distant landscape feature. One should allow about 45 seconds to a minute for the eye to adapt to the new conditions.

W. E. K. Middleton, Vision Through the Atmosphere (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1952), p. 73.

The visual range is usually taken to be the distance at which the optical depth reaches 3.91.

E. Andrews, P. Saxena, S. Musarra, L. M. Hildemann, P. Koutrakis, P. H. McMurry, I. Olmez, W. H. White, “Concentration and composition of atmospheric aerosols from the 1995 SEAVS experiment and a review of the closure between chemical and gravimetric measurements,” J. Air Waste Management Assoc. (to be published).

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Light entering the eye of an observer looking at a target through the atmosphere has two sources, light reflected by the target itself and light scattered by the atmosphere into the sight path.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Color matches of the barn and the field plotted in CIELAB color space. In this space, lines of constant hue are approximately straight lines through the origin, and the greater the distance from the origin, the greater the colorfulness of the hue.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Colorfulness of the red barn target (less the colorfulness of the haze) versus optical depth as seen by observer SM.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Optical depth of the atmosphere versus hues of targets as determined by color matching by observer SM and by simultaneous spectrophotometric measurements.

Tables (1)

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Table 1 Nonlinear Least-Squares Fits of Perception Model Parameters

Equations (5)

Equations on this page are rendered with MathJax. Learn more.

I(x, λ)=I(0, λ)exp[-τ(x, λ)]+a(λ)β(λ){1-exp[-τ(x, λ)]}
f=11+R[exp(τ)-1],
M-MH=(M0-MH)exp(-τ).
HS=αH0+(1-α)HH,
LS=αL0+(1-α)LH,

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