What is it about?

Color helps us recognize things in the world around us, but color depends on illumination, for example, light from the setting sun gives scenes a yellowish cast and light from the polar sky a bluish cast. It is shown here by computational methods that natural variations in daylight -- shifts in patterns of light and shade rather than in overall color -- severely limit the number of surfaces we can identify by color.

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Why is it important?

Research in this area has traditionally focused on our constant perception of surface color under changes in illumination color, so-called “color constancy”. Yet most variations in natural light are not in color but in the pattern of light on scenes. Because of these variations, the number of surfaces identifiable over an interval is at least an order of magnitude smaller than with overall changes in illumination color.

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This page is a summary of: Fluctuating environmental light limits number of surfaces visually recognizable by colour, Scientific Reports, January 2021, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-80591-9.
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