Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

2016 Edition
| Editors: Ming Ronnier Luo

Retinex Theory

  • John McCann
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8071-7_260



Retinex is the theory of human color vision proposed by Edwin Land to account for color sensations in real scenes. Color constancy experiments showed that color does not correlate with receptor responses. In real scenes, the content of the entire image controls appearances. A triplet of L, M, S cone responses can appear any color. Land coined the word “Retinex” (the contraction of retina and cortex) to identify the spatial image processing responsible for color constancy. Further, he showed that color sensations are predicted by three lightnesses observed in long-, middle-, and short-wave illumination. Retinex is also used as the name of computer algorithms that mimic vision’s spatial interactions to calculate the lightnesses observed in complex scenes.


Edwin H. Land, the inventor of hundreds of film patents, was struck by experiments showing that color sensations in real complex images depend on scene...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McCann ImagingArlingtonUSA