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Impossible shadows and the shadow correspondence problem

Shadows cast by objects contain potentially useful information about the location of these objects in the scene as well as their surface reflectance. However, before the visual system can use this information, it has to solve the shadow correspondence problem, that is to match the objects with their respective shadows. In the first experiment, it is shown that the estimate of the light source position is affected by a gradual luminance ramp added to the image. In the second experiment, it is shown that observers process impossible shadow images as if they ignored the local features of the objects. All together, the results suggest that the visual system solves the shadow correspondence problem by relying on a coarse representation of the scene.



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