Light and Color

  • Peter Corke
Part of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics book series (STAR, volume 73)


In ancient times it was believed that the eye radiated a cone of visual flux which mixed with visible objects in the world to create a sensation in the observer, like the sense of touch, the extromission theory. Today we consider that light from an illuminant falls on the scene, some of which is reflected into the eye of the observer to create a perception about that scene. The light that reaches the eye, or the camera, is a function of the illumination impinging on the scene and the material property known as reflectivity.

This chapter is about light itself and our perception of light in terms of brightness and color. Section 10.1 describes light in terms of electro-magnetic radiation and mixtures of light as continuous spectra. Section 10.2 provides a brief introduction to colorimetry, the science of color perception, human trichromatic color perception and how colors can be represented in various color spaces. Section 10.3 covers a number of advanced topics such as color constancy, gamma correction, and an example concerned with distinguishing different colored objects in an image.


Color Space Primary Color Luminous Flux Yellow Flower Tungsten Lamp 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Corke

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