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J Vis. 2011 Aug 12;11(9). pii: 4. doi: 10.1167/11.9.4.

The perception of gloss depends on highlight congruence with surface shading.

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School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Studies have shown that displacing specular highlights from their natural locations in images reduces perceived surface gloss. Here, we assessed the extent to which perceived gloss depends on congruence in the position and orientation of specular highlights relative to surface shape and the diffuse shading from which surface shape is recovered. The position and orientation congruence of specular highlights with diffuse shading was altered while preserving their compatibility with physical surface shape (Experiment 1). We found that perceived gloss diminished as the position of highlights became incompatible wit h the surface's global diffuse shading maxima. In a subsequent experiment, we constrained highlight proximity near the global luminance maxima in diffuse shading. When we disrupted the consistency in the local position and orientation of specular highlights with respect to the diffuse shading and local surface meso-structure, a decline in perceived gloss was still observed (Experiment 2). This decline in perceived gloss caused by misaligning the positions and orientations of specular highlights relative to diffuse surface shading could not be explained by differences in orientation fields alone (Experiments 3 and 4). These results suggest the visual system assesses both position and orientation congruence between specular highlights and diffuse shading to estimate surface gloss.

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