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Proceedings Paper

Effect of the atmosphere on the color coordinates of sunlit surfaces
Author(s): Cornelius J. Willers; Johan W. Viljoen
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Paper Abstract

Aerosol attenuation in the atmosphere has a relatively weak spectral variation compared to molecular absorption. However, the solar spectral irradiance differs considerably for the sun at high zenith angles versus the sun at low zenith angles. The perceived color of a sunlit object depends on the object's spectral reflectivity as well as the irradiance spectrum. The color coordinates of the sunlit object, hence also the color balance in a scene, shift with changes in the solar zenith angle. The work reported here does not claim accurate color measurement. With proper calibration mobile phones may provide reasonably accurate color measurement, but the mobile phones used for taking these pictures and videos are not scientific instruments and were not calibrated. The focus here is on the relative shift of the observed colors, rather than absolute color. The work in this paper entails the theoretical analysis of color coordinates of surfaces and how they change for different colored surfaces. Then follows three separate investigations: (1) Analysis of a number of detailed atmospheric radiative transfer code (Modtran) runs to show from the theory how color coordinates should change. (2) Analysis of a still image showing how the colors of two sample surfaces vary between sunlit and shaded areas. (3) Time lapse video recordings showing how the color coordinates of a few surfaces change as a function of time of day. Both the theoretical and experimental work shows distinct shifts in color as function of atmospheric conditions. The Modtran simulations demonstrate the effect from clear atmospheric conditions (no aerosol) to low visibility conditions (5 km visibility). Even under moderate atmospheric conditions the effect was surprisingly large. The experimental work indicated significant shifts during the diurnal cycle.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 February 2017
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 10036, Fourth Conference on Sensors, MEMS, and Electro-Optic Systems, 1003612 (3 February 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2244777
Show Author Affiliations
Cornelius J. Willers, Airbus DS Optronics (Pty) Ltd. (South Africa)
Johan W. Viljoen, Airbus DS Optronics (Pty) Ltd. (South Africa)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10036:
Fourth Conference on Sensors, MEMS, and Electro-Optic Systems
Monuko du Plessis, Editor(s)

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