Naturally glossy: Gloss perception, illumination statistics, and tone mapping

Wendy J. Adams, Gizem Kucukoglu, Michael S. Landy, Rafał K. Mantiuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recognizing materials and understanding their properties is very useful-perhaps critical-in daily life as we encounter objects and plan our interactions with them. Visually derived estimates of material properties guide where and with what force we grasp an object. However, the estimation of material properties, such as glossiness, is a classic ill-posed problem. Image cues that we rely on to estimate gloss are also affected by shape, illumination and, in visual displays, tone-mapping. Here, we focus on the latter two. We define some commonalities present in the structure of natural illumination, and determine whether manipulation of these natural ''signatures'' impedes gloss constancy. We manipulate the illumination field to violate statistical regularities of natural illumination, such that light comes from below, or the luminance distribution is no longer skewed. These manipulations result in errors in perceived gloss. Similarly, tone mapping has a dramatic effect on perceived gloss. However, when objects are viewed against an informative (rather than plain gray) background that reflects these manipulations, there are some improvements to gloss constancy: in particular, observers are far less susceptible to the effects of tone mapping when judging gloss. We suggest that observers are sensitive to some very simple statistics of the environment when judging gloss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Gloss
  • Illumination
  • Tone-mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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