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Inverse Lighting for Photography

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We introduce a technique for improving photographs using inverse lighting, a new process based on algorithms developed in computer graphics for computing the reflection of light in 3D space. From a photograph and a 3D surface model for the object pictured, inverse lighting estimates the directional distribution of the incident light. We then use this information to process the photograph digitally to alter the lighting on the object.

Inverse lighting is a specific example of the general idea of inverse rendering. This refers to the practice of using the methods of computer graphics, which normally are used to render images from scene information, to infer scene information from images. Our system uses physically based rendering technology to construct a linear least squares system that we solve to find the lighting. As an application, the results are then used to simulate a change in the incident light in the photograph.

An implementation is described that uses 3D models from a laser range scanner and photographs from a high-resolution color CCD camera. We demonstrate the system on a simple test object and a human face.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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  • CIC is the premier annual technical gathering for scientists, technologists, and engineers working in the areas of color science and systems, and their application to color imaging. Participants represent disciplines ranging from psychophysics, optical physics, image processing, color science to graphic arts, systems engineering, and hardware and software development. While a broad mix of professional interests is the hallmark of these conferences, the focus is color. CICs traditionally offer two days of short courses followed by three days of technical sessions that include three keynotes, an evening lecture, a vibrant interactive (poster) papers session, and workshops. An endearing symbol of the meeting is the Cactus Award, given each year to the author(s) of the best interactive paper; there are also Best Paper and Best Student Paper awards.

    Please note: for Purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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