In a scene observed from a fixed viewpoint, the set of shadow boundaries in an image changes as a point light source (nearby or at infinity) assumes different locations. We show that for any finite set of point light sources illuminating an object viewed under either orthographic or perspective projection, there is an equivalence class of object shapes having the same set of shadows. Members of this equivalence class differ by a four-parameter family of projective transformations, and the shadows of a transformed object are identical when the same transformation is applied to the light source locations. Under orthographic projection, this family is the generalized bas-relief (GBR) transformation, and we show that the GBR transformation is the only family of transformations of an object’s shape for which the complete set of imaged shadows is identical. Finally, we show that given multiple images under differing and unknown light source directions, it is possible to reconstruct both an object’s surface and the light source locations up to this family of transformations from the shadows alone.
© 2001 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: May 5, 2000
Revised Manuscript: January 2, 2001
Manuscript Accepted: January 2, 2001
Published: August 1, 2001
David J. Kriegman and Peter N. Belhumeur, "What shadows reveal about object structure," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 18, 1804-1813 (2001)