Surface perception in pictures

Jan J. Koenderink*, Andrea J. van Doorn, Astrid M L Kappers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Subjects adjusted a local gauge figure such as to perceptually "fit" the apparent surfaces of objects depicted in photographs. We obtained a few hundred data points per session, covering the picture according to a uniform lattice. Settings were repeated 3 times for each of 3 subjects. Almost all of the variability resided in the slant; the relative spread in the slant was about 25% (Weber fraction). The tilt was reproduced with a typical spread of about 10†. The rank correlation of the slant settings of different observers was high, thus the slant settings of different subjects were monotonically related. The variability could be predicted from the scatter in repeated settings by the individual observers. Although repeated settings by a single observer agreed within 5%, observers did not agree on the value of the slant, even on the average. Scaling factors of a doubling in the depth dimension were encountered between different subjects. The data conformed quite well to some hypothetical fiducial global surface, the orientation of which was "probed" by the subject's local settings. The variability was completely accounted for by singleobserver scatter. These conclusions are based upon an analysis of the internal structure of the local settings. We did not address the problem of veridicality, that is, conformity to some "real object."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages10
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1992


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