Information limits on identification of natural surfaces by apparent colour.
By adaptational and other mechanisms, the visual system can compensate for moderate changes in the colour of the illumination on a scene. Although the colours of most surfaces are perceived to be constant ('colour constancy'), some are not. The effect of these residual colour changes on the ability of observers to identify surfaces by their apparent colour was determined theoretically from high-resolution hyperspectral images of natural scenes under different daylights with correlated colour temperatures 4,300 K, 6,500 K, and 25,000 K. Perceived differences between colours were estimated with an approximately uniform colour-distance measure. The information preserved under illuminant changes increased with the number of surfaces in the sample, but was limited to a relatively low asymptotic value, indicating the importance of physical factors in constraining identification by apparent colour.