Effects of scene content and layout on the perceived light direction in 3D spaces

Ling Xia*, Sylvia Pont, Ingrid Heynderickx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


The lighting and furnishing of an interior space (i.e., the reflectance of its materials, the geometries of the furnishings, and their arrangement) determine the appearance of this space. Conversely, human observers infer lighting properties from the space's appearance. We conducted two psychophysical experiments to investigate how the perception of the light direction is influenced by a scene's objects and their layout using real scenes. In the first experiment, we confirmed that the shape of the objects in the scene and the scene layout influence the perceived light direction. In the second experiment, we systematically investigated how specific shape properties influenced the estimation of the light direction. The results showed that increasing the number of visible faces of an object, ultimately using globally spherical shapes in the scene, supported the veridicality of the estimated light direction. Furthermore, symmetric arrangements in the scene improved the estimation of the tilt direction. Thus, human perception of light should integrally consider materials, scene content, and layout.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Light direction
  • Materials
  • Real scenes
  • Scene content and layout
  • Shapes
  • Visual light field


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